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Us 37, U.s. 28, Syria 22, Newport 17, Washington 16, Maryland 14, Uganda 13, United States 13, Virginia 11, California 10, Africa 9, Afghanistan 9, Boehner 8, Mr. Levin 7, Hagel 7, Arkansas 7, Djibouti 7, Wisconsin 7, Navy 7, Chuck Hagel 7,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    February 26, 2013
    12:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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workforce, to those we hope to recruit and to both our allies and adversaries around the world. we must end this uncertainty about this position. mr. president, it is time for us to end this debate. and that is what we will be voting on now. later on, there will be a vote on whether to confirm senator hagel. the vote now is whether to bring this debate to an end. i hope we will so we can get on to the nomination vote. i yield the floor. i think it's noon and time for a vote. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. the senator from oklahoma has 30 seconds remaining. the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me say that we -- everything has been said, not everyone has said it. however, i would like to make sure that everyone understands
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that the actual statements that were made by the former senator hagel in terms of the relationship of our country with israel and iran prior to the time that he was nominated, because many of those statements were changed at that time. i encourage the no vote on cloture. the presiding officer: the time is expired. under the previous order, the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of charles timothy hagel of nebraska to be secretary of defense, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of charles timothy hagel of nebraska to be secretary of defense shall be brought to a close upon
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reconsideration. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? on this vote, the ayes are 71, the nays are 27. upon reconsideration, 3/5 of the senators duly chosen and sworn have voted in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: mr. leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that following the recess for the weekly party conferences, the time until 4:30 be equally divided in the usual form and that at 4:30 all postcloture time be yielded back and the senate proceed to vote on the nomination of chuck hagel without intervening action or debate, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motion be in order, president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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without objection, so ordered. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until the senate finance committeel approved the name of jack lew of treasury secretary. iowa senator chuck grassley voted against the nomination, citing lew's role in citigroup during the
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bailout. here is what some of what senator grassley had to say. >> finally, mr. lew, i'm concerned about the attitude of this administration, supporters criticize the senate usually anonymously, exercising basic due diligence regarding this nominee. they don't like anyone questioning them and they don't like answering questions. despite their tactics we must continue to perform their senate vital role of advise and consent. what we've seen so far mr. lew is getting ad being paid by taxpayer supported institutions. citigroup received a taxpayer-funded bailout and gave mr. lew a piece of it on his way out the door. tax-exempt new york university made mr. lew over $900,000 salary. paid his mortgage and paid him a substantial $685,000 severence payment. the reason for severance payments is still unclear. the amount was first reported in "the new york
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times" article which called it quote, unquote, unusual. this must be further examined. it's a shame that mr. lew failed to understand these details as part of his confirmation process leaving us to rely on the press to dig out the details. mr. lew's eagerness and skill in obtaining bonuses, severance payments, and perks raise questions whether he appreciates who pays the bill. in fact when asked basic questions like, what interest did you receive, or did you pay on your $1.4 million mortgage? mr. lew could not remember. and of course, that answer doesn't pass the laugh test. when asked about communications with citigroup regarding student loan kickbacks he responded that he couldn't remember any. then he and the administration made it clear that they had no intention of providing documents that might refresh his recollection and shed light
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on whether he was involved in those kickbacks. clearly these questions don't matter to them because they think they have the votes but transparency and sunlight are essential for congress and for the american people. if mr. lew will not answer our questions now, why should we on this committee expect him to answer any questions if he is confirmed? that is unacceptable and for these reasons i will note no on that nomination. >> senator grassley was one offy republican senators voting against jack lew's nomination against treasury secretary which passed the finance committee 19-5. the nomination now goes to the full senate for a vote. and majority leader harry reid said monday the lew vote could be held as early as tomorrow. on the house side of capitol hill today speaker john boehner talked about the automatic budget cuts which will go into effect friday, the sequestration, if congress doesn't act. in his remarks he criticized senate democrats for
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delaying action to prevent the cuts. >> the president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the super-committee failed to come to an agreement. and so for 16 months the president has been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with senate leaders and in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move the bill. we have moved the bill in the house twice. we should not have to move a third bill before the senate gets off their ass and begins to do something. >> house speaker john boehner this morning, had remarks by president obama to the defense community. he is into newport news at about. >> people were traveling. either traveling for fun or traveling, looking for a
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job. make they were on the way to the grand canyon or working agricultural fields in california. so at first, route 66 was just a way to get somewhere. your destination was out in california. but later on after all these snake pits started blossoming up and tourist traps and attractions and cafes and motels and, the trading posts, indian trading posts, when those things started springing up it almost became like a big amusement park along route 66. route 66 became a destination. it was not like, dad, can we go to the beach in california? it was more like dad, let's go down rout 66. all the fun stuff was there. it was like a big amusement park. >> one of the places you will see this weekend as booktv, american history tv and c-span's local content vehicles look behind the scenes and history and literary life in albuquerque
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on c-span2 and 3. president obama coming up in about 20 minutes, visiting newport news ship building to talk about the potential impact of the sequestration budget cuts. up until then conversation from this morning's "washington journal" on the issue from a member of the house budget committee. >> host: congressman reed ribble a congressman from wisconsin and member of the budget committee. we heard from a caller earlier talking to congresswoman sanchez but these are not cuts under sequestration. they're just slowing the growth. can you explain the difference? >> guest: yeah, it depend on which side of the ledger you're looking at. if you look at defense spending, in the first year there is a reduction in actual spending and then it turns back up and the rate of growth continues at the same pace it was prior to sequestration but we're starting with a lower starting point. on the rest of the things,
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these really aren't cuts. they're reductions in the rate of growth. so every year the government, it is like an automatic right to refund all of our programs. we don't go to zero and start rebuilding the budget from a zero number. we start with the previous baseline and builds from them. if you are a employee that gets furloughed or impacts your family it's a real big
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problem and i recognize that concern. however, we have to, as the fiduciaries of the taxpayer dollars, we have to recognize that this country is over$16 trillion in debt. and we have to begin to address it and fix it. this is a modest but important first step. >> host: this is "the new york times" from february 20th. budget cuts seen as risk to growth in the u.s. economy. the cuts, most likely would reduce growth by 1 1/2 of a percentage point in 2013, according to a range of government and private forecasters. that could be enough though to again slow the arrival of a recovery, producing instead another year of sluggish growth and high unemployment. >> guest: well i guess if you take it from "the new york times" perspective you could make that argument because i think they see already a slowing in growth happening and this makes a convenient fall person for bad public policy been in place under four years of obama administration. we have slowed growth. it has been very stagnant. there are a lot of reasons for it. there are a lot of friction points put in place in our
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economy that need to be fixed. until we get our confess and the president of the united states to work together and begin to remove those friction points we'll continue have slow growth. if you look at a same slide you had up a moment ago ago, shows the sequester on the right hand of that page, it shows the equestionster as it relates to the overall economy. it is one half of 1%. there is little tiny red line at the bottom. that is the sequester cut in relation to the u.s. economy. >> host: however, during a economic recovery is it bad timing to go ahead with the sequester? >> guest: i don't think it is. i think it is probably the appropriate time. i think the the american people recognize it. consider a husband and wife sitting at the dining room table to decide whether they buy a new car this year. the wife says, we really can't afford to buy this new car. we can't make the payments. but the husband says we have to buy this car because someone at gm will lose their job if we don't. i think that family is more
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concerned about one of them losing their job. if we continue to use the logic that if we, if we restrain government at all, because you're going to lose jobs if you don't, then why don't we have everyone send in all their money? that is the counterpoint to that. that is something that rarely gets discussed. >> host: so you do not believe then that sequestration is bad thing and should, should it be reversed if it goes through, should the two sides come together and try to undo it? >> no, they should not. what the two sides should do is come together, i put a bill in the hopper last night, hr 816, that would allow transfer power to the agency heads. where sequestration went wrong is that the cuts go across every single line item in every agency's budget. so there is no ability, for let's say secretary of the agriculture to actually prioritize. you know what? this aspect what we're doing is very low priority. i might eliminate it so i can save wages here. and my bill basically allows
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each agency head to once that top line number is established for them to manage the fund in a way that is most appropriate. they know where the waste is. they know what the lower priorities and higher priorities and gives them power to manage the agencies correctly. just like you do in the home and do in the business. >> host: will you give the vote? >> guest: i don't know. we jumped out of the box with ten cosponsors. it will give attention. >> host: on twitter, in when my boss tells me to cut, year-over-year spending, not a decrease what i requested for in the budget. let's hear from paula in fort myers, florida. a republican caller. hu. >> caller: i hope the sequester goes through because i can not see them cutting the budget in any way, shape or form. besides that, from what i understand, there will be increase this year. it is not decreasing this year. it is going up $15 billion in spending?
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for the entire year? i would like to know why there hasn't been a budget in four years? what is wrong with harry reid he can not, you know, get along with the house and set up a budget for them so you can go to conference and have a budget? i can't believe this after four years there hasn't been one. >> guest: it is really surprising. congressman jim cooper, who is a democrat from nashville, tennessee, wrote a piece of legislation, called no budget, no pay. it required the u.s. congress to pass a budget, a concurrent budget resolution with the senate and house passed it, bought it together, agreed on it and did all the appropriations bills on time. if congress didn't do that they would have to give up the pay until they got their work done. i was the lead republican sponsor on that piece of legislation and was very supportive of it. i glad we took a small piece of it with the debt limit increase a few weeks ago to require the senate to pass a budget. within minutes having that legislation passed, harry reid came to the podium said
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this year the senate will in fact pass a budget. i think it is a critical step forward. at this point you see what the senate priorities are compared to the house priorities. hopefully we'll be able to pull those two documents together and have this country work on a budget framework, work inside of a budget framework so we can control this rampant growth of government. i'm looking forward to it. >> host: still an individual on twitter writes in, why does savings pay less than inflation rate? is that because feds have borrowed so much? >> guest: in part because feds have borrowed so much but also because they have to keep interest rates low because the debt burden in this country is so high. historically interest rates on federal debt run between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2%. today it is at about 1.2%, 1.25%. if interest rates move that up to the historical levels, the cost of interest to the u.s. treasury would go over $800 billion. it would be a catastrophe.
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>> host: cdog on twitter wants to know this. paul ryan's budget plan called for closing loopholes. now the republicans are against closing loopholes. president obama said come to the table for more revenue to closing loopholes. why not agree to that? >> guest: we're not opposed to closing loopholes. our budget will do the exact same thing. we'll close loopholes and take savings from that and reduce tax rates for every single business in the country. and eliminate the government from picking winners and losers. but the president wants to do, he wants to continue to pick winners and losers and say, let's remove this loophole here but let's add one there. that is nonstarter for us. we believe we need national, total and complete tax reform. that is what we'll be working on. >> host: michelle on twitter says, your bill sound like common sense. do you think you can receive bipartisan support? >> guest: i think so. the reason we might not get bipartisan support on it if the president doesn't want that authority. right now the blame game
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going on, correct? the republicans and house are blaming the president. the president is blaming republicans and it is this typical nonsense that you see out of washington that drives the american people crazy. it drives me crazy. you want to know whose fought it is? my fault. i voted for this. >> host: budget control act? >> guest: yes, on both sides of the aisle. we voted for it. you know who's fault it is? it is the president's fault, he signed it. we should embrace this as one of essential reforms to getting our fiscal house in order. i think it is common sense. i think that's what the american people want and expect out of our leaders. here is why republicans might oppose it. they might oppose it because it gives the administration too much power. because what happens then if the administration picks off a republican congressional district in arbitrarily tries to cut more there to make a political statement? so there is fearful, they're fearful of that. my response is, well that's okay. if they do it, it is visible. you can see it because it was their choice.
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and i think emdid he kratz would maybe oppose it because then it would actually place the blame on the president for the choices they made. >> host: there is a headline in the "new york times" this morning, jonathan wise man's piece, gop drafting plans to give the president power. >> guest: that is my bill. >> host: that is your bill? >> guest: yeah. >> host: you're working with leadership on this? >> guest: well leadership got it yesterday. >> host: okay. >> guest: we're starting to move forward. the senate has a similar bill although senator inhofe and senator toomey have one geared specifically toward giving the authority to defense. if it is a good idea for the secretary of defense, it is a good idea for secretary vilsack. >> host: let's go back to the phones. >> guest: sure. >> host: miriam in green river, wisconsin, is it or --. >> caller: wyoming. >> host: sorry, i couldn't see the y. go ahead, democratic caller. >> caller: okay. i want to know why the politicians can't take a five-year pay freeze and to not get anymore perks or whatever? let's close all the
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loopholes, and if the politicians show up for work for two hours to show off their tie or their dress, no pay. they should get paid by the hour since they don't think they have to be there more than a day or two a week. >> guest: i will talk a little bit about pay. i came in as a freshman member in 2010. so i'm now entering my third year. there has been no pay increases for members of congress since then. this is the third consecutive year. i am advocating removing pension programs for members of congress. i offered several different term limits bills to restrict careerism for members of congress. and, i believe that we ought to put more requirements on members of congress to do their job. that's why i cosponsored and the republican lead along with democrat jim cooper on the full no budge get, no pay, proposal. we hope we can get that too the floor this year.
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so we require congress to do the job american people expect them to do. great question, thanks. >> host: usa today. headline, budget would hit congress not members. >> guest: no, that is not true. >> host: not pay. >> guest: pay has been frozen for three years. and so, in that case it is already there. it does hit each budget in our individual offices. and so, there is an impact directly there i think it is appropriate if we're going to say, to federal agencies and to our discretionary portion of the pie and our budget everybody else has to cut and tighten up, we also have to do it. i agree with that. >> host: joscelyn in connecticut the, independent caller. hi, there. >> caller: how are you? >> host: good morning. >> caller: my question for representative ribble is this. first of all i would like to state my husband is a decorated naval veteran. he served necessary nation for six years honorably. he went to school. is now a professional engineer. he has been working for five
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years in connecticut for the department of navy. we serve our country and do not make much money. we make about $90,000 a year. we are talking about a 20% pay decrease which for us is about $900 a month. that is devastating. we're talking about devastating. i have two small children. i want your pledge on national television, sir, that you and every other member of congress, but specifically you, because you can only speak for yourself, will take a 20% pay cut in your pay, sir. my husband, by the way also had a pay freeze for three years. has received no additional money for three years even though health care has gone up. i want you to pledge, as a the secretary of defense or coming secretary of defense has pledged, that you will take a 20% pay cut as will every member of congress, including the president before you hit an honorable veteran who is actually disabled by the way, who
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served his country for less than $100,000 a year and has a family of four to feed. >> guest: well, first of all, thank your husband for his service and thank you and your children for the sacrifice that your families have made. this is where the rubber hits the road in this discussion. that's why i mentioned it earlier. it is a problem if you're one of those families that will be hit with the sequester. and this is why one of the reasons, why my legislation, this morning that actually went in the hopper last night is so critical. because it would give the secretary of defense, rather than this carte blanche, every single line it seem in the budget has to be cut by 7.3%, it would give, give the secretary of the defense the ability to manage it and say, you know what? there are lower priority items in defense. we're not going to spend it here. instead we'll preserve wages there. the sequester itself, how it was done is not how you would manage anything. regarding pay for members of
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congress, first of all, i can't make a pledge for anything because the constitution doesn't allow to us change our pay. i could only vote to change the next congress's pay. you understand under the 27th amendment. but i want you to know that i'm, i hear exactly what you say. i have a very same concerns that you have. and i'm trying to get the fix in place before friday morning or saturday morning so that what's happening to you your family doesn't have to happen. thank you again for your family's service. >> host: this legislation you're working on, you say you have ten cosponsors off the bat. >> guest: yeah. >> host: yeah, but you need a lot more votes. >> guest: you're hearing a lot of talk about this. this conversation has been going on for the last week. we recognize something has to change. there are a couple ways to address those same things. what we can do is let the sequester go through as it is currently go through and immediately follow with a continuing resolution. a continuing resolution as you're aware is the methodology we fund the
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government with in the absence of a budget. so continuing resolution will be due by march 27th. we could move that up to next week, and put this authority there. so it happens back-to-back. we could do it this week prior to sequestration taking place which would be my preference because then this uncertainty that's here would disappear. and then, agency heads would have a lot of flexibility. >> host: well, what have you heard from speaker boehner about this bill? >> guest: i haven't her anything yet. i will be talking with the speaker immediately after this time we're having together right now. >> host: one-on-one meeting with him? >> guest: our regular conference meeting where i will be presenting it to the conference. >> host: anybody else with similar ideas? >> guest: you know, there's been a lot of conversation of this in different ideas and like i said, there is pushback from both republicans and democrats and support from republicans and democrats. but something is common sense as this, every single american gets it. they understand it. and i'm hoping that common sense will prevail.
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>> host: we'll hear from joanne next in maryland. democratic caller. hi, joanne. >> caller: hi, i'm a little bit nervous because i rarely, rarely call in this is something i think is important. sir, i find you disingenuous. republicans are willing to sacrifice programs like head start, meals on wheels for low income seniors, wic, when a number of poverty hunger programs all to protect tax breaks for the rich. i mean that is what is really comes down to. and as far as people losing their jobs, first of all, federal employees are people too. they have families. they have to feed their children. secondly there is lot of, federal government hire as lot of contractors. those contractors are often from small businesses. i mean very small businesses, three, four, five people in the business. they're going to be cut. and when they lose their federal contracts, those people won't be able to feed their children either. >> host: joanne, we'll have
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the congressman, respond. >> guest: thank you, joanne, for your comments. i apologize for your finding me to be disingenuous. i don't mean to be that way. i'm trying to be honnest and straightforward with the american people as we can. let's put the perspective. they will roll back federal spending to a point two years ago. you could make the argument we were underfunding, let's say tyke food stamps for example. food stamps jumped from 2009 from 53 billion to a year ago to 76 billion, even though simultaneously, unemployment went from ten.1% down to 7.7%. but yet food stamps and these programs for the needy, the truly needy continue to rise. and in fact i'm not opposed to having these types of social safety nets available for the truly poor. what we have to be careful of those making sure that the truly poor are protected. that they don't get squeezed out by other priorities in
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the country that might be less important. i don't have a disagreement with you on these programs. what we're trying to do is make sure that the financial resources available to those people, who have the need is actually there. those people who are able to support and sustain themselves, don't get the benefit any longer. >> host: maria, savannah, georgia, republican caller. >> hi, i am calling for two reasons. i don't understand why, you know, obama who says, we're, i inherited this debt, i inherited this debt. he has doubled the debt from 7,000 to 14,000 by redoing the oval office. that office has been that way for, i mean, 40, 50 years. he goes, and changes everything in it. and then for, i am military spouse. my husband is deployed. you guys are talking about the cutting the military for once? come on, our men are, our husbands, our sons, our
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wives, are over there fighting for our freedom in, and the government is treating them like they don't even matter. you're extendable, you don't matter to us. you're another person we pay. you're talking about cutting pay, cutting military. everybody else, every other country is building up their military. >> host: thank you, maria. >> guest: thank you for your comments and thank you for coming on today. thank you as well for your family's service. your husband's pay is protected under sequestration. in this case deployed soldiers and active military are not affected by the sequestration. regarding military spending right now we're spending six times more than the next closest nation on defense. we're spending more than the next 13 or 14 countries combined on defense. at some point there has to be a slowing down of how we're, how we're spending money to defend the country. we can not sustain this. this is, particularly true in light of the fact much
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our ever-growing social safety net for the senior programs. primarily medicare and social security. 10,000 americans, every single day are entering those programs. 10,000 every single day. that is scheduled to go on for more than a ebb did qaed. as the baby boom generation goes through. that amount of money will begin to compress what we do on the discretionary side. last two years, discretionary spending when i first came to congress was 41 1/2%. today it is over 38%. other programs, mandatory, have continued to grow. they're squeezing out essential programs that we all value and feel they're important. this is why the american people along with members about of congress have to begin the long, difficult, conversation about how do we protect our seniors and how do we protect our children and grandchildren. >> host: congressman, another tweet for you here. representative, 80 billion is a nice cut but how will
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we get to 1.2 trillion? >> guest: 1.2 trillion comes from the decade-long cut of the sequestration. it will take us that amount of time. it is a significant reduction in the rate of growth. but i would like you to look, if we can look back at some of the slides that i brought, that i think it is important for you to kind of see effects when. you look at the slide she is putting on the screen, you can see federal spending with and without the sequester it. the gap between the two lines is the acouple live amount of $1.2 trillion. some of that savings coming from interest, savings, obviously if we're not borrowing 85 billion this year, we'll not pay interest on it over the next nine years. so but it is still a modest reduction. if you look at that line, you can see government spending continues to grow each and every year. so, for our friend and families who are serving diligently in the military and serving our country bravely i want you to know that we're concerned about
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that. and we're aware of it. but we have to measure this with all of our priorities as well. >> host: harold in which is wisconsin, democratic caller. hi, harold. good morning. >> guest: good morning, harold. >> caller: good morning. for medicare, why can't, instead of raising. raising the age of let people buy in at 55, at 450 a month and then go back to 100 approximately, when you're 65. and, have more money into the medicare, and it would help small businesses that are insuring the older people that are working? >> guest: harold, that's a great idea. first of all thanks for calling from wisconsin. i hope it is not snowing there today. but i think those types of ideas are the types of ideas that we need to actually get on the table and start talking about. we recognize that, medicare,
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sheer demographicking of our country aging. there are fewer workers replacing those retiring. there are pressure put on the critical programs and ideas like yours ought to have a hearing and, i really appreciate this. i appreciate you coming up with suggestions like this, these are the types of debates that have to happen. thanks for weighing in this morning. >> host: we'll go to chagrin false, ohio, on line for republicans. phillip? >> caller:. yes, my question is simply this. if in fact the sequester only is a decrease in the increase in budget, how can we have a viewer call in and say that her husband is going to have a 20% decrease in his wages because of the sequester? how can the president go out on the stump and talk about all the jobs that are going to be lost because of their sequester?
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we're operating same today as we'll be operating tomorrow except four increase is going to be less? am i wrong in my perception what is going on? >> guest: you're about 90% correct. however in the first year, and next nine or ten months, particularly on the defense side, this was a concern of the caller, that called earlier, regarding her husband. i think he was in the navy. there is an actual reduction on the defense side. it actually goes down for this first year. and so there will be some feeling there. you can't make any type of decision or cut in this country without it affecting somebody. in the last four years, there has been an additional 100, i think 130,000 new federal employees over the last four years. if we re -- retard that or restrain it will have an impact. this is the difficulty that we have trying to get control over spending because every single time you, you restrict spending, you're going to of a affect a real, living, breathing american citizen and their
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family. but these are difficult choices that have to be made. we're responding to past promises that right now the country is having a hard time keeping. and we have to inif to find some balance point. it is not about protecting taxes for the rich. as a matter of fact, january 1st, i voted for it, i voted to allow some of those tax increases to go through. i voted to put the payroll tax back in place. and we're going to have to have some revenue increases because the gap is too large. but this, i do not believe that this is the doomsday that is being presented by the president or even by some of my colleagues in the congress. >> host: you do agree with democrats that more tax revenue have to be on the table? >> guest: if we look at it historically, the current tax code, now we have a new tax code now with the change of the fiscal cliff but let's look at the last decade. those taxes yielded roughly 16.9% revenue against. gdp. spending is historically been around 19.5% of gdp.
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there still was a gap there. we had deficit spending without regard to that, even if the spending hadn't blown up. spending is 24% of gdp the gap is too large. so if we could pull spending back to the historical levels of 19.6% of the nation's gdp i would be more than willing to bring revenue up to that point to get to a balanced budget. >> host: cdog on twitter, representative ribble bill, what cuts do republicans want to make to entitlements? >> guest: i don't think we need to cut entitlements but we need to retard them on the rate of growth. interest is discussion in regard to entitlements how you go about it. i've done town hauls with regard to entitlement reform particularly with social security and my constituents in wisconsin centered around three basic themes. we should look at the cap. right now social security recipients pay taxes on roughly the first $110,000 of income. we could raise that cap to 200,000 or00,000 and pull in
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additional revenue. that would be one option. several people favored increasing or removing the cap. secondarily, some say why don't we raise the age? we're being unfair to our grand parents who came in at age 65 but died at age 68 or 69 if we were to age adjust it for them. they should have started collecting at age 59 based on current age levels and how long americans live. we might have have to increase the age by a year. that is about a third of my constituents said that the third said, well, why can't we means test it if the super affluent are able to pay their own way. this was to be a social safety net for the poor, maybe we ought to go back to that type of program. all of these ideas have merit and and real reform might include elements of each of those. >> host: we'll go to syracuse, new york, joe is joining us. independent caller. hi, joe. you're on the air. go ahead.
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>> caller: i got a son that's in the army right now and this sequestration is already affecting him. he is supposed to train to go to afghanistan in august. and now they stopped all training because they can't afford to send them to different locations for the training. so i'm kind of afraid that, and, if this sequestration, ends, tomorrow, or, even a month from now, my son won't get to training he needs to grow because i went to a, a iraq in 2004 and 2005. i needed six months of intense training. i needed intense training to go for iraq in a year. >> host: how much training has your son had so far?
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>> caller: he has a year of training but you have got to have specific training to go to iraq, or to go to afghanistan. you've got to learn some of the language. you have got to learn some of the equipment, like vehicles. and you need, you need to learn an awful lot of things like room clearing and things like that. >> host: we'll have the congressman respond. >> guest: thanks for your question and your concern and also thank you for your family's service. here's the reality on afghanistan. some of this might be related to the sequester. more is likely related to fact that the war in afghanistan is starting wind down. . ..
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>> host: what will impact
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different areas of the country, and here's the richmond times dispatch, cuts at fort lee, courtesy of the newseum here in washington. here's the arizona republic, health cuts would affect arizona making the front page there. the hartford current, ripple effect feared is the headline on their story, and then "the chicago tribune", federal cuts may sting illinois. what to can you make of in this strategy? >> guest: i think the strategy is a political strategy and it's working, the president's got a very large and loud bully pulpit, so he's able to take his case to the american people directly in a way that we can't. it's difficult for us to do. but the president hasn't talked about what will happen if interest rates go to 4 or 5%. we're currently paying about $260 billion a year in interest, if we continue to add testify sit or debt to that -- deficit or debt to that, we're looking at a balanced budget that's in
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an eight or ten-year window out there. so we're going to continue to add debt. we have to recognize and be honest with the american people that these are things we can't acor ford. and, in fact, right now the federal government is consuming almost 25%, one-quarter of this nation's full productive output. if we continue spending the way we are with current rates of growth in our economy, it not be long before it's taking a third of the nation's economy x. so we have to control it to protect our children and our posterity. we have to get our arms around this. and it's going to be painful. we're going to feel it. >> host: wisconsin going to feel it? >> guest: wisconsin's going to feel it. every single american's going to feel it. but i think the counter to that is what they're going to feel later if there was an economic collapse would be calamitous, truly calamitous in this country. >> host: according to the white house, the impact on wisconsin, lose 8.5 million in funding for primary and secondary education,
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3,000 civilian dod employees furloughed, 661,000 cut in funding for job search assistance, it goes on and on, the list. um, have you heard from your constituents? >> guest: in part. but i'm likely to hear the types of calls that you're getting today where the american people don't believe the hyperbole. and this is how politicians talk. everything just -- and, quite frankly, the media plays into it. they use words like devastating and, you know, slashing and taking an axe, and they make it much, much worse than it will be. and if, in fact, gets the transferred authority to these agencies so they could pick and choose, how could you root out waste this way? if every agency head knows where the waste is in their department, but this doesn't get at the waste. if they pass my bill, it will. it'll allow them to go and get rid of the waste rather than critical programs. >> host: well, we use impact here on c-span.
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[laughter] reid rib, member of the -- lib l, member of the budget committee. thank you for being here. >> guest: appreciate it. >> next on c-span2, we're live at newport news shipbuilding in virginia, they make submarines and aircraft carriers, virginia's largest industrial employer. president obama will be speaking momentarily talking about the potential impact of the automatic defense budget cuts on industries, on manufacturers like newport news. live coverage here on c-span2, and we will follow it shortly with your phone calls and reaction. >> for the world's greatest navy. and we do this with our hands, with your heads, and most importantly, with our hearts. because that's what shipbuilding is all about. [applause] we are the first ones to leave
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our neighborhoods in the morning, and often we are the last ones to return home at night. but that's only the beginning of who we are. we are your neighbors, and we are your friends. we are the little league coaches and the sunday schoolteachers. we unload boxes at the local food banks and volunteer at the animal shelters. we give generously to the united way, the uso and other organizations dedicated to lending a helping hand to those who need one. we are an integral part of the fabric of our communities, and we strive to make them better places for everyone. now, more than 5,000 of us are veterans of the armed forces who now serve america in a different yet equally important way. the men and women of shipbuilding are the heart and soul of an american
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manufacturing tradition that dates back more than a century, and that is why it is so fitting that our nation's president is here to communicate a very important message about something that is certainly of concern to each and every shipbuilder. shipbuilders who are never wavered in building our nation's defense. shipbuilders who are committed to defining each day the power behind made in america. ladies and gentlemen, these are the shipbuilders of huntington ingalls industries. [cheers and applause] and now as shipbuilders, we do hard stuff, and we do it right. we understand that when we come
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to work, it takes all the tools in our tool bag and a lot of collaboration to solve the complex challenges in our business. solving our national fiscal challenges is also hard stuff, and it must be done right. and like shipbuilding, it too requires all the tools in the tool bag and lots of collaboration to find a balanced approach. sequestration doesn't benefit anyone, and that includes the thousands of shipbuilders here today as well as our families, our friends and neighbors and our extended family of 5,000 suppliers in all 50 states. it's a tough problem, but it's a problem worth solving, and we should use all of our tools to go and get it done right.
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and now, and now, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving our warmest shipbuilders' welcome to the 44th president of the united states, the honorable barack obama. [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ >> hello, newport news! [cheers and applause] well, it is good to see all of you here today. i want to thank your ceo, mike petters for showing me armed. i usually don't -- around.
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i usually don't get a chance to hang out with nuclear submarines, especially submarines that my wife has sponsored. [cheers and applause] so right there, that was worth the trip. but most importantly, it's a great chance to see the incredible men and women who every single day are helping to keep america safe and are just the bedrock of this country's manufacturing base. thank you to all of you. [cheers and applause] i want to thank our outstanding secretary of the navy, ray mavis, who's here. [applause] there he is right there. the good looking guy there over at the end. i want to thank your mayor, mckinley price, who served this nation bravely in the u.s. army. [cheers and applause]
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i i want to thank two outstanding congressmen who care about this facility, care about virginia and care about the country, i can't thinkman bobby scott is here -- congressman bobby scott is here. [cheers and applause] and congressman scott reginald is here as well. [applause] now, the reason i came here today in addition to seeing just some incredible stuff -- [laughter] it's true, every time i come to these places, i don't know how y'all do it. it is just amazing work. but the main reason i'm here is to call attention to the important work that you're doing on behalf of the nation's defense and to let the american people know that this work along with hundreds of thousands of
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jobs are currently in jeopardy because of politics in washington. in a few days, congress might allow a series of immediate, painful, arbitrary budget cuts to take place known in washington as the sequester. now, that's a pretty bad name, sequester, but the effects are even worse than the name. instead of cutting out the government spending we don't need, wasteful programs that don't work, special interest tax loopholes and tax breaks, what the sequester does is it uses the meat cleaver approach to gut critical investments in things like education and national security. and life-saving medical research.
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and the impact of policy won't be felt overnight, but it will be real. the sequester will weaken america's economic recovery. it will weaken our military readiness. and it will weaken the basic services that the american people depend on every single day. already the uncertainty around these cuts is having an effect. companies are starting to prepare layoff notices. families are preparing to cut back on expenses. and the longer these cuts are in place, the greater the damage. so here at newport news shipbuilding, you guys have made an enormous investment because we've said in order to maintain the finest navy the world has ever known, we've got to make
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sure there is an orderly process whereby we are continually upgrading our ships, building new ships, maintaining our ships properly. and these are some big ships. [laughter] so it's expensive. and it's complicated. and you've got 5,000 suppliers all across the country. and you've got to have some certainty and some knowledge about how things are going to proceed over the long term for mike and others to plan properly. so you're rightly concerned. mike is properly concerned about the impacts that these cuts will have on not just this company, but companies and small businesses from all 50 states that supply you with parts and equipment. mike was telling me that you guys have already made a billion dollars worth of capital investment, you've got half a billion dollars in training costs as you recruit and hire new people. well, those z are commitments that you make rightly. you've got to have the capacity to plan and have some certainty
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in terms of what it is that we're going to be doing. and you know that if congress can't get together and plan our nation's finances for the long term, that over time some of your jobs and businesses could be at risk. over the norfolk naval station, the threat of these cuts has already forced the navy to cancel the deployment or delay the repair or certain aircraft carriers. one that's currently being built might not get finished. another carrier might not get started at all. and that hurts your bottom line. that hurts this community. payoff these automatic -- because of these automatic cuts, about 90,000 virginians who work for the department of defense would be forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs. so that's money out of their pockets. money out of their paychecks. and then that means there's going to be a ripple effect on
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thousands of other jobs and businesses and services throughout the commonwealth, because if they don't have money in their pockets or less money in their pockets, that means they're less able to afford to buy goods and services from other businesses. so it's not just restricted to the defense industry. all told, the sequester could cost tens of thousands of jobs right here in virginia. but it doesn't just stop there. if the sequester goes into effect, more than 2,000 college students would lose their financial aid. early education like head start and early start would be eliminated for nearly a thousand children, and around 18,000 fewer virginians would get the skulls and -- the skills and training they need to find a job. across the countries these cuts will force federal prosecutors to potentially let criminals go.
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air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, and that could cause delays at airports across the country. tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids. hundreds of thousands of americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings including more than 3500 children right here in virginia. so these cuts are wrong. they're not smart, they're not fair, they're a self-inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen. now, the reason that we're even thinking about the sequester is because people are rightly concerned about the deficit and the debt. but there is a sensible way of doing things, and there's a dumb way of doing things. i mean, think about your own family, right? let's say that suddenly you've
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got a little less money coming in. are you going to say, well, we'll cut out college tuition for the kids, we'll stop feeding the little guy over here, we won't pay our car note even though that means we can't get to work. that's not what you do, right? you step back and you say what is it that's important? our child's education, making sure they're healthy, making sure we can get to the job, keeping our house, you know, repaired. and then you say here are the things that aren't so important, and you cut those out. you prioritize, and you make start decisions. well, we should be doing the same thing. now, i've laid out a plan that details how we can pay down our deficit in a way that's balanced and responsible. we have the plan right on our web site, the white house web site. everybody can go see it.
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it details exactly how we can cut programs that don't work, how we can raise money by closing loopholes that are only serving a few as opposed to the average american. we detailed $930 billion in sensible spending cuts that we're willing to make and $580 billion in wasteful tax loopholes and deductions that we're willing to eliminate through tax reform. and what i've said is if the republicans in congress don't like every detail of my proposal, which i don't expect them to, i've told them my door is open. i am more than willing to negotiate, i want to compromise. there's no reason why we can't come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term without affecting vital services, without hurting families, without impacting outstanding facilities like this one and our national defense.
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there's a way of doing this. and the fact is there are leaders in both parties throughout this country who want to do the same. i've got to give scott reginald credit, you know? he's one of your republican congressmen who's with us here today, and that's not always healthy for a republican, being with me. [laughter] but the reason he's doing it is because he knows it's important to you. and he's asked his colleagues in the house to consider closing tax loopholes instead of letting these automatic cuts go through. he's concerned about the deficit, and he's more than prepared to make some really tough cuts, but he wants to do it in a smart way. bobby scott, same thing. some of the cuts we've proposed bobby, you know, might not think are perfect, but he knows that we've got to make some tough decisions. he just wants to make sure that you aren't the ones who are
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adversely impacted. and that we're sharing the sacrifice in bringing down our deficit. we're not just dumping it on a few people, and we're not doing it in a dumb way. senators, like john mccain, have made similar statements to what scott said. your republican governor, along with other governors around the country, have said they want congress to stop the sequester, to stop these cuts. but i just have to be honest with you, there are too many republicans in congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks. and that's what's holding things up right now. keep in mind nobody's asking them to raise income tax rates. all we're asking is to consider closing tax loopholes and deductions that the speaker of the house, john boehner, said he was willing to do just a few months ago. he said there were a bunch of loopholes and deductions you could close.
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said you could raise 800 billion, a trillion dollars by closing loopholes. we're not even asking for that t much. all we're asking is that they close loopholes for the well off and the well connected, for hedge fund managers, for oil companies or corporate jet owners who are all doing very well and don't need these tax loopholes so we can avoid laying off workers or kicking kids off head start or reducing financial aid for college students. i don't think that's too much to ask, i do not think that is partisan. the majority of the american people agree with me, the majority of newport news agrees with me. [cheers and applause] we need to get this done! but the choice is up to congress. only congress has the power to pass a law that stops these damaging cuts and replaces them with smart savings and tax reform.
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and the second i get that bill on my desk, i will sign it into law, but i've got to get congress to pass it. none of us will get 100% of what we want. democrats, they've got to, you know, make some tough choices too. democrats like me. we've said we're prepared to make some tough cuts and reforms including the programs like medicare. but if we're willing to compromise, then republicans in the house have to compromise as well. that's what democracy's about, that's what this country needs right now. so -- [applause] let me, let me make just one last point for those of you following this. lately some people have been saying, well, maybe we'll just give the president flexibility, he can make the cuts the way he wants, and that way it won't be as damaging.
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problem is when you're cutting $85 billion in seven months which represents over a 10% cut in the defense budget in seven months, there's no smart way to do that. there's no smart way to do that. you don't want to have to choose between, let's see, do i close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid? do i close this navy shipyard or some other one? when you're doing things in a way that's not smart, you know, you can't gloss over the pain and the impact it's going to have on the economy. and the broader point is, virginia, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. we can't just cut our way to prosperity. we can't ask seniors and working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit
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reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful. we're not going to grow the middle class just by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling or forcing communities to lay off more teachers or cops or fire fighters or shipbuilders, and then folks who are doing really well don't have to do anything more. that's not fair. and it's not good for the economy. and the other thing we've got to do is stop having these crises manufactured every month. i know you guys must get tired of it. [applause] didn't we just solve this thing, now we've got another thing coming up? [applause] i mean, think about if mike rap his business this way -- ran his business this way. once every month or two there'd be some crisis, and you wouldn't be sure whether or not you were working, and even if it got solved eventually or ultimately,
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you know, it'd be pretty discouraging on people. you'd be less productive. ships wouldn't get built as fast. you'd waste money because you don't know exactly what to expect. folks aren't sure. am i showing up to work today or not? if it's not a good way to run a business, it's sure not a good way to run a country. [applause] now, all of you, the american people, you've worked too hard for too long rebuilding, digging our way out of the financial crisis back in 2007-2008 to just see congress cause another one. of -- the greatest nation on earth can't keep on conducting its business drifting from one crisis to the next. we've got to have a plan, we've got to invest in our common future, our true north is a
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growing economy that creates good, middle class jobs, a country that provides its people with the skills they need to get those job ands and make sure that you're getting paid a decent wage for working hard so you can support your families. that's what we should be focused on right now, not weakening the economy, not laying people off. [cheers and applause] that's what we should be talking about in washington. and if you agree with me, i need you to make sure your voices are herald. let -- heard. let your leaders know what you expect of them, let them know what you believe. let them know that what this country was built on was a sense of obligation to not just each other, but to future generations. that we've got to shoulder those obligations as one nation and as one people. you know, i was in a
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conversation with some of the governors from across the country yesterday, and i told them, i said, i've run my last election. michelle's or very happy about that. [laughter] i'm not interested in spin, i'm not interested in playing a blame game. of at this point all i'm interested in is just solving problems. all i'm interested in is making sure that when you get up early in the morning and get to this shift at 5:30 in the morning, that you know if you do a good job and if you work hard and if you're, you know, making sure that all the parts to this incredible ship that you're building is where they need to be, if you're doing what you do, then you can go home feeling satisfied, i did my job, i did
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my part, i can support my family, you know, i can take pride in what i've done for this country. that's all i want. i want us to be able to look back five years from now, ten years from now and say we took care of our business. and we put an end to some of these games that maybe, i guess, they're entertaining for some but are hurting too many people. but in order for us to make that happen, i'm going to need you. you know, the one thing about being president is after four years you get pretty humble. you'd think maybe you wouldn't, but actually you become more humble. you realize what you don't know. you realize all the mistakes you make. but you also realize you can't do things by yourself. that's not how our system works. you've got to have the help and the goodwill of congress, and what that means is you have got
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to make sure that the constituents of members of congress are putting some pressure on them, making sure they're doing the right thing, putting an end to some of these political games. so i need you, virginia, to keep up the pressure. i need you to keep up the effort. i need you to keep up the fight. [cheers and applause] if you do, congress will listen. if you stand up and speak out, congress will listen. and together we will unleash our true potential, and we'll remind the world just why it is the united states builds the greatest ships on earth and is the greatest nation on earth. thank you. god bless you. god bless the united states of america. [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> president obama speaking at newport news shipbuilding in newport news, virginia. they employ 21,000 people building ships and submarines for the u.s. navy. the president talking about the potential impact of defense budget cuts set to happen with the sequester as of friday, march the 1st. in just a bit, we're going to open up our phone lines to get your thoughts on how you think the sequester will impact you. those numbers be you are
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republican, 202-585-3885, democrats, 202-585-3886. independents and others, 202-535-3887. we'll also look at tweets, we're using the hash tag sequester. first, though, we wanted to show you the comments of speaker boehner making some news this morning. here's the headline in the hill, reading: boehner tells senate to, quote, get off their ass and pass the sequester bill. that from the hill this afternoon. here are the comments of speaker boehner. we'll show you those and then take your calls here on c-span2. [background sounds] >> yeah, right. i don't think so. >> yeah, i think so. i'll work on that. >> god morning, everyone. >> morning. >> you know, republicans have voted twice to replace the sequester. the president, as you are all
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aware, insisted that he not have to deal with the debt ceiling twice and insisted that the backstop for the work of the supercommittee be the sequester. but i don't think the president's focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester. the president has been traveling all over the country, and today going down to newport news in order to use our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes. now, the american people know the president gets more money, they're just going to spend it. the fact is that he's gotten his tax hikes. it's time to focus on the real problem here in washington, and that is spending. the president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the supercommittee failed to come to an agreement. and so for 16 months the president's been traveling all
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over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move the bill. we have moved the bill in the house twice. we should not have to move a third bill before the senate gets off their ass and begins to do something. >> good morning. the speaker said the president's going to be in newport news, virginia, and talking to families in the commonwealth. i can tell you, i'm concerned about families in the commonwealth. i'm concerned because they're concerned about their future and the uncertainty which looms because of this sequester. now, the president has said, well, he wants to compromise. but if you take a look at what's going on, there's been four years of spending increases, and now the president says we can't have any progress on this sequester unless we get the second tax hike in eight weeks, in the eight weeks. that's not compromise. then he says your choice is going to be taking criminals
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off, letting criminals out of jails and onto the streets or give me a tax increase. that's not compromise, that's a false choice. you know, we have tried in the house, as the speaker said again, to bring forward measures that actually accomplish reform and cut spending. we've even taken things that the president had in his very own budget to say, please, join us. and he won't accept those proposals unless we raise taxes. now, it's time for the senate to come together with us, sit down with the president, let's get this resolved for the american people. >> as many of you know, you've heard about this argument for quite some time. let's put it in perspective. this idea came from the white house. when the house passed the bill twice, what did the president do? he threatened the veto. if we did something different on sequestration. now as the time looms, the
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president does exactly what he continues to do, he does a road show. the fundamental question here the president has to decide, does he want to be president of a political party, or does he want to be president of the united states? it is time for leadership. it is time for him to engage and come down one mile, deal with the senate if he really wants to lead. >> we are three days away from the president's plan taking effect unless the senate takes action. the president proposed the sequester, the across-the-board cuts that disproportionately impact our military, and now he is on the road in newport news today, over 180 miles from washington d.c. he's traveled over 5,000 miles the last who weeks -- two weeks, and we challenge him, mr. president, travel a mile and a half up here to capitol hill. sit down with harry reid and
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urge the senate democrats to take action. the president says that this is a bad idea. but yet he is -- he has not put forward an alternative idea. the republicans in the house have twice taken action, twice passed legislation. the first time 300 days ago. what we need is for the president to stop using this as an excuse to raise taxes. and turn it into an opportunity to start saving taxpayer dollars, start spending money more wisely. the american people, moms, dads, seniors, college students, children, they shouldn't be forced to lose their jobs or lose the opportunities that this country has to offer. it's time to get serious about the spending. and we need the president to lead and get off the campaign trail. >> a proud kansan by the name of william alan white once said something to the efect that the truth will always come out if
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the facts are fairly and honestly on display. so let's review the facts. the facts are the sequester was the president's idea. it's a fact the house has twice passed legislation to replace the sequester with smarter cuts and reforms. it's a fact that the senate has twice rejected our replacement and has set up another financial crisis. and it's a fact that the president threatened to veto any replacement to the sequester. it's also a fact that these cuts amount to about 2.5% of the federal budget. find me an american family, a hard working taxpayer, that hasn't already cut over 2% out of their budgets at home without cutting essential things. there's a fact that says that we are going to take in more money this fiscal year than we have ever taken in before. the budget this year, we will
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spend more money this year than we spent last year even if the sequester goes into effect. we will spend more money even if the sequester goes into effect. the fact is when we accepted the president's sequester 18 months ago, we made a deal, a dollar for cuts for a dollar of spending -- debt limit increase. if he wants to do the bait and someone now, we will have lied to our constituents by replacing those with tax increases. this leads you to the truth, and the truth is the president needs to come back from his campaign-style tour, stop scaring people and work with us to address the issue to of debtd the deficit. let's get the economy moving and people back to work. >> yeah. we've all said the across-the-board spending reduction is the wrong way to do it. it needs to be more targeted. that's why the house passed something last may to replace the sequester. that's why the house also passed
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in december last year to say this is a better way to do it. we have overspent the federal budget by a trillion dollars now five years in a row. we cannot continue to do that. and so this perpetual statement of let's just postpone it, let's do it another time, let's delay it another month is the wrong way to do it. as has already been mentioned, this year now will be the highest amount of revenue in the history of the country. with the tax increases that just came onboard with the fiscal cliff negotiations, now tax revenue will be the highest ever in the history of the nation. we are overspending, we are spending more than we ever have. we have got to find a way to be able to slow down our spending to stabilize our economy so american families are not dealing with the crisis they're dealing with. >> mr. speaker, i wanted to ask you if you think that your position would be emboldened if you guys voted a third time?
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every time you talk to a house democrat say their numbers have changed, they were narrow votes you don't have the votes now. >> it's time for the senate to act. it's not about the house. we've acted. where's the president's plan to avoid the sequester? have you seen one? i haven't seen one. all i've heard is that he wants to raise taxes again. where's the president's plan? where's the senate democrat plan? i want to see it. >> mr. speaker, you all can talk about the regular order of things. i've talked to aides on your side here, there's no intention to be here friday, over the weekend when the sequester hits. if the cut is, in fact, successful, why not have the house ready to go to conference for those two days -- >> if the senate acts, i'm sure the house will act quickly. >> before the sequester -- >> if the senate acts, i'm sure the house will be prepared to move quickly. >> can you talk about giving the president flexibility on the
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sequester -- [inaudible] >> you know, our goal is to make sure that the government is, in fact, funded, that there's no threat of a government shutdown. and we've been working with our members talking with our colleagues in the senate about how best to enact a continuing resolution to keep our government funded. >> mr. speaker, you know, you keep saying about the president campaigning all day, but, i mean, all you guys are doing is press concernses. i understand -- conferences. don't you end up risk looking like -- >> the house has done its job. we've passed a bill twice to replace the sequester. when are they going to act? when is the senate going to act? where's the president's plan to replace the sequester? i'm anxious to see it. thanks. [background sounds] >> house republican leaders from this morning, and we showed you just a bit ago president obama live in newport news, virginia,
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talking about the potential impact of the defense budget cuts on the economy there in newport news and to the nation as a whole. we're opening up our phone lines for your thoughts on how you think the budget cuts, the so-called sequester, will effect you. the numbers, 202-585-3885 for republicans. democrats, it's 202-585-3886. independents and others, that's 202-585-3887. also tweets, the hash tag is sequester. let's go first to washington, d.c., and this is bill on our democrats' line. >> caller: hello. i support the president in this battle completely, especially his call for citizens to telephone their members of congress and tell them don't do a self-inflicted wound and send us back into recession and back into higher unemployment. you know, being a citizen
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doesn't stop when you vote in an election, and these tea party republicans, they would like to see social security destroyed, they would like to see the minimum wage destroyed. i wouldn't be surprised if they wouldn't like to see child labor laws destroyed. and the only way we're going to stop them is for people to realize they've got to be isolated, these tea party nut cakes. otherwise we're going to go back into a deep recession, and it's not just congress. the american enterprise institute, one of their members did a book where he pointed out that it's the tee party republicans -- tea party republicans that are the intransigent ones. it's not the democrats, it's not the independents, it's not people from outer space. it's the tea party republicans that are driving this country back into recessions, and they are the real threat to this
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country. >> host: let's get a view from our republican line, murphy, north carolina. next up, robert. good afternoon. >> caller: hello, how you doing? i would like to greats speaker -- address speaker or boehner and say, sir, i apparently got on the wrong line here, but i'm going to tell you you just saw the power of the bully pulpit. and i'll tell you this, sir, i respect you, i think you're a good man, but i think you better talk control of your tea party. you guys are the party of no, and the american people are getting sick of the party of no. so what i'd like to just ask you to do, sir, is consider the power of what you just saw, the bully pulpit. he convinced me. i'm sure he convinced millions of other people. >> host: and those comments from speaker baner and president obama available at c-span.org. let's go to newport news, back to newport news from a call on our independent line. i hope i got your name right. >> guest: yes, sir, you do.
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i'm calling you, sir, from newport news -- >> host: make sure you mute your television there and then go on with your comment so you don't feedback. >> caller: yes, sir. i was saying no to the tea party saying something about sequestering the american people. i believe that the president has every right as congress and senate has to pass lawed that we do not get sequestered as a people. we the middle class and poor are the majority of the citizens in the united states. and we deserve to have good mental health. we deserve not to go hungry. we deserve not to have the society that we live fall without our help. >> host: can i ask you if you work at the shipyard or a related business? >> caller: i am a prior shipyard worker and a prior army service soldier. >> host: thanks for calling in. newport news was where the
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president spoke at the shipbuilding company there, the largest industrial employer in the state of virginia. they build submarines and ships, and one of those ships set to come into repair was the uss lincoln was set to come in in the middle of february but has been delayed by the potential budget cuts. here's a headline from today's event, huffington post: obama warns that spending cuts could idle military resources. that's from huffington post. to bonnie, let's go to our republican line next, to nicholas in new york city. nicholas, welcome. >> caller: well, it's great to be here, and thank you, and i'll try to make it brief, and let me apologize to the others waiting on line. i just, very quickly, you know, i came here as a child in 1966, and they moved us up to the bronx. we came here through red cross auspices. and, you know, my dad and mom worked two and three jobs, eventually they bought real
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estate because they saved their money. we were subsistence farmers back home -- >> host: nicholas, where -- where was back home? you said you came here in '66. where was back home? >> caller: montenegro today on border of albanian on the coast of adriatic sea. we were albanian catholics. in fact, we were a minority amongst other minorities, but we were the minority. >> host: back to our question, how do you think these budget cuts will affect you? >> guest: well, i've been watching this thing, and it seems like i've seen this movie before. now, i've worked very hard as my mom and daddied, as my brothers do, and my kids are the first generation born here, and i've had the fortune of putting my kids living in the right neighborhoods, getting them into good schools. i've been quite lucky that my children also have taken the challenge to a good education. my son recently graduated from right there where you are at
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george washington school of law. my daughter is off to law school herself in september. >> host: well, thanks for sharing your story this afternoon, kind of tapping into what he said about have we seen this movie before. here's a tweet from betsy about the sequester, that's the hash tag we're using. she says is the sequester the new y2k? here on c-span2 we've got, oh, about eight minutes where we're continuing to take your calls. the senate is gaveling back in at 2:15 eastern this afternoon. before they went on their party runs of. s today, they did approve moving forward with the nomination of chuck hagel to be defense secretary. that passed by a vote of 71-27. so this afternoon at about 4:30 you will see a final vote on the chuck hagel nomination. live coverage here on c-span2. also this afternoon, today on capitol hill, jack lew's nomination to be the next treasury secretary was approved in committee by the finance committee, and it's likely that his nomination will get a vote
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tomorrow or so in the senate. and we can tell you that ben bernanke will be back on capitol hill tomorrow for another round of testimony on his annual monetary report, this time before the house financial services committee live at 10 a.m. eastern, that will be on c-span2. next up we go to fort washington, maryland, and this is bonnie on our democrats' line. >> caller: hi. >> host: hi there. >> caller: i am really sick and tired of the republican party. and their many, many lies. for instance, i just heard speaker or -- speaker boehner say the president has not come up with his own bill. you can go out on the white house web site, and you can read every line of his bill. so i wish they would stop with that lie. the other lie that i wish they would stop with is that the real problem is spending. the real problem isn't spending, the real problem is we don't get enough revenue. and we're not getting enough
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revenue because we need jobs. and they think they're going to be burdening their kids with a much larger deficit if we don't cut, cut, cut, they better stop and really, really consider what's going to happen if we don't get our economy turned around and we don't create more jobs as soon as possible. then our kids are going to have an each worse debt -- even worse debt than they have at this present time. >> host: the budget cuts set to take, begin to take effect on march the 1st, $85 billion many fiscal year 2013 alone overall over the next decade $1.2 trillion. gregory's an i didn't -- an i independent, he's in indiana. >> caller: thank you very much for your program, sir, i think it's wonderful. this morning not long ago i watched something quite wonderful, i watched congress actually doing do something. they went ahead with the nomination for the new secretary
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of defense, though i was quite startled to see that the leadership of the republican party, mr. mccain and mr. sessions, both voted for this man whose character they dealt huge blows during the debate. but besides that, i think there's plenty of room for both sides to reason by come to terms and stop the character assassination and stop the putting at risk say, for example, the millions of veterans who are entitled to their health care by causing the pentagon possibly to have to reduce or eliminate tricare funding. that's just unconscionable to me. >> host: on the issue of blame that gregory kind of gets into, washington post poll out today asked about a thousand people about where they would assign blame in this sequester issue. 45% assigning it to congressional republicans, 32%
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to the president, another 13% assigned it equally between the two. about five more minutes of your calls, and we'll be back to the u.s. senate at 2:15 eastern. in california, rodney's on our democrats' line. >> caller: yes. i question the legality of the sequester agreement, because to my understanding sequester is to hold property by judicial authority. the property we're talking about here is the taxpayers' money. since congress has no judicial judicial -- since congress is not a judicial branch of the government with nor do they have judicial power, i don't understand how could they even implement the sequester? >> host: here's a tweet that says the sequester was obama's idea, but it backfired. now let him eat the law he signed. pack to calls. -- back to calls. el segundo, california, this is
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timothy. hi there. >> caller: hey, good morning. what you just quoted was right, it was his idea. among the scare tactics -- fear mongering, scare tactics doesn't get job done. he needs to stop pretending he's still running and actually run the country, show some leadership. and, you know, it's a fact that if you cut taxes, cut the regulations and, for example, we're awash in natural gas. if we would just put all that natural gas and use that for the 18 million trucks we have to deliver our food and everything we buy off the shelves, we could tell saudi arabia bye. and in the interim, if you look at wyoming, it's a good example. the fracking is done very, very responsibly, and the gas would plummet to $2 a gallon. i'm out here in los angeles, born and raised, proud californian. it's paradise, it's turning into a third world tie let.
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toilet. gas is $4.65, $6 a gallon in beverly hills. it's time to lead, it's time to put people back to work, it's time to actually be the president of the united states. stop all this show boating, scare tactics, fear mongering. it's insanity. >> host: let's go to jim who's on our republican line in austin, texas. jim, how do you think these budget cuts will affect you? >> caller: we have a lot of defense bases in san antonio and a lot of federal workers here or in austin, the va has its regional headquarters and so does internaling revenue. internal revenue. but one of the things that affects us the most is this tea party mess. you could see today -- the previous caller was talking about leadership. there's boehner from the house that can't even lead his own
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group. he had to put mr. mccotter and ms. jenkins up there who know nothing about anything along with his leadership because the tea party has actually ruined the republican party. >> host: jim's in austin, texas. diane is an independent, she's in the vermont. hi, diane. go ahead. >> caller: hi. thanks for c-span, the only actual reality show on tv. thank you so much. i usually call on the republican line, but i'm not sure what i am anymore. i do know for a fact that i'm a member of the taxed enough already group, and that is what tea actually stands for. i'm not really sure what the original question was, i think it had something to do with how is the sequester going to hurt -- >> host: and we're asking how will it affect you? >> caller: i don't think it's going to affect me at all. i'm so low in the tax bracket now that i'm pairly surviving. our family has learned how to
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live quite well on very little money, and it it can be done, ad it can be done pretty happily for our small family. this is not a democracy, it is representative republic, and there is a lot of misinformation and disinformation that has been perpetuated over 40 years of the public school system, i believe. people are very, very misinformed as to how this government is supposed to work, and the tea movement is the only thing that is going to save this country. >> host: diane, thanks for weighing in. here's beatrice who says regarding the across-the-board cuts, president obama says, quote, we can't cut our way to prosperity. u.s. senate is gaveling in here on c-span2. thanks for the calls, we'll take you live to the senate floor now.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: we're not in a quorum call. mr. durbin: madam president, as everyone in the senate knows, people across the united states, with the sad passing of senator daniel.way in december there were a number number of changes made maid in the appropriations committee, a committee senator inouye skillfully chaired until his passing. he also chaired the defense appropriations ch appropriations subcommittee which served our nation and did it with the kind of a leadership that only a person with his military, distinguished military service could give. with this fortunate change of events i found myself unexpectedly in a new role as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee.
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i never would have guessed it two months before it was even in the realm of possibility. given this new role i thought it was appropriate and worthwhile during the recess today tokyo a firsthand look at some of the things our military are doing in an often overlooked part of the world, in africa and the nearby gulf. before i go further let me note how ims frommed i always am in any corner of the world there is an outpost of america's finest, our diplomatic personnel serving on the front lines and representing the best of our values. they're often joined by development and military personnel helping improve the lives of host nations pop laitions laitions, providing training and security. i want to thank the afters --, ambassador, the staffs and others who made my quick visit a great success. my first stop was uganda. a good friend of the united states located in central
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africa. many mow noe that uganda was recognized around the world for its early efforts to is stem the spread of aids when many african nations were in denial. some of that progress has waned over the years but there has been a renewed effort to rebuild on earlier success. uganda is also leading -- helping to lead negotiations with various factions involved in the violence in eastern congo also known as the rape capital of the world. last year, the armed rebel group m-123 overran key parts of the eastern congo bringing further human suffering to an already scarred part of africa. i want to acknowledge the constructive role uganda has played in moving these talks forward. uganda is home originally to the horrific action of the lord's resistance army, an army group led by a mess eye antic warlord called joseph kony.
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they were in the spotlight last year when the group invisible children launched and online video detailing more than 20 years of brutal l.r.a. violence including murder, rape, kidnapping, and the dragooning of child soldiers. a to date this video has had almost 100 million viewers. in uganda, i had the chance to meet with two impressive people who were victims of the lord's resistance army. they witnessed some horrific acts. one young man met with us at the ambassador's residence. this army invaded his village, dragged all the young men out, put them in a circle and said you're about to become soldiers in the army. before you become soldiers you'll be asked to kill your family. many of them couldn't believe it. this young man said he was praying they'd spare his father. they brought his father in front of him and murdered him as the child looked on. then he was brought into service
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for six months. roaming through the jungles, fighting on behalf of the lord's resistance army until there was an opportunity to escape. he's turned his life around, hard to imagine anyone could after those experiences but hasse. next was lily, a beautiful young woman. she too was kidnapped by the lord's resistance army and forced into unspeakable things for the time she was under their control until she, too, escaped. the good news in both stories is mae made a life since then and tried to help others who have been victimized by this kind of kidnapping. these horrible things are occurring in africa, and we have decided to help. with the ugandans we are working to put joseph kony and the lord's resistance army out of business. we have pushed them out of uganda, we now believe they're in the central african republic. in 2010 congress passed a bill led by a former colleague and a
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great champion of africa, and a former friend and colleague of the presiding officer, senator russ feingold of wisconsin called the lrd's resistance army disarmament in northern uganda recovery act of 2009 an important step forward and it was. i was pro -- proud to cosponsor the bill. as a result, last year, president obama because of the finegold legislation, sent military personnel to track down and bring an end to the lord's resistance army menace. i met in the bush with our military in uganda who were following up on this feingold legislation. i can't tell you what a remarkable job they're doing, under very difficult circumstances. the l.r.a. is on the run. defections are increasing. formerly terrorized communities are starting to live without fear. there is still more to be done, but i was impressed and proud of how the united states stepped up
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and is doing something that will be remembered for generations by the ugandan people. let me also take a moment to mention another issue in uganda. there is a proposed law pending before the parliament in uganda that would literally criminalize homosexuality. in some cases, even imposing the death penalty. this is a cruel piece of legislation that has been met by global condemnation and concern. i met with the activists in uganda who fear for their personal safety if this bill becomes law, a fear that i believe unfortunately is very warranted. i and others have appealed to the ugandan government not to tarnish its international reputation and impose criminal penalties against people simply because of their sexual orientation. uganda must continue to be a leader in the region, something this legislation will substantially erode. i hope that ultimately common sense will prevail and the ugandan parliament will not pass this terrible legislation. madam president, while few have
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ever heard of a small hard scrabble country in the horn of africa called djibouti, it is one of the most strategic pieces of real estate in the world. tens of thousands of ships pass through the nearby shipping lanes every year. over 30,000 vessels, 40% of all the ocean traffic in the world, passes this point. the country is surrounded by violence and instability, including yemen just 17 miles away and somalia, their next-door neighbors. we're fortunate, therefore, to have camp lemenye located in djibouti. it is a significant united states military base helping to bring security and stability to a difficult neighborhood. it's not an easy location to do business. in the summer, temperatures reach 120 degrees. there's not a tree in sight in djibouti. the country is extremely poor and opportunities for recreation and escape are almost
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nonexistent. these american service men and women are to be thanked for their dedication and long tours away from their family and friends. they are playing an important role in bringing greater security to the region and helping to dramatically reduce the scourge of piracy that has so impacted the area waters in recent years. usaid also has a major humanitarian warehouse in why butte i where emergency aid can be shipped quickly and efficiently throughout the region as far away as bangladesh. even in faraway djibouti, there was a woman helping with this effort. i want to recognize her work here for a moment on the floor. her name is christine carpinski. she is from chicago. she is part of this important usaid effort to save the lives of the most vulnerable people in the world. let me last note that djibouti just had elections this weekend, elections the opposition are claiming were fraudulent. i wasn't there as an observer, but certainly djibouti can do more to open up its political system. it took some notable steps with the current election and i hope
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the post-election process can move forward in a peaceful manner. i also hope that the djibouti government, in partnership with the united states and other foreign powers that have significant footprints there will do more to lift its own people out of poverty. what i saw there in terms of underdevelopment, particularly given the sizable sums paid by foreign governments for base leases and a population of less than one million people simply didn't add up. we in the government of -- we and the government of djibouti have a responsibility to do more for the people who live there, especially the next generation of young people. uganda, djibouti, so many countries in that region, you will find 50% of the population under the age of 15. it is just a reminder to us that the forces, the dynamic forces behind arab spring in many parts of the middle east and northern africa are at least evident in many of these other countries that haven't been touched yet by that change. lastly, madam president, i had the opportunity to visit the small gulf nation of bahrain.
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it's been one of the more open and forward-thinking countries of the gulf region. it's also a close u.s. ally, home to the u.s. fleet and located in yet another difficult neighborhood bordering iran just across the straits. bahrain has been a generous host to our fifth fleet, and anyone who has had a look at the map or followed tensions with iran knows the importance of such a naval force in this part of the world. these dedicated sailors help keep shipping lanes open and ensure that iran does not threaten its neighbors or u.s. interests. their presence alone is likely to make iran think twice about reckless moves in the persian gulf. let me say a word about the navy. i guess i'm partial because my two brothers, my late brothers both served in the navy during the korean war, so when i get a chance to go aboard ships, i visualize my older brothers and what life must have been like in those days. when i went out with admiral john miller to visit some of the ships of the fleet, i met some of the finest young men and
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women you could ever ask for. most of them had been trained in illinois at the great lakes naval training station and now were off serving the united states navy around the world. no one, unless they have some experience and knowledge of the subject, could understand the enormity of the responsibility which these men and women in the navy have. we often hear about the heroic efforts of those who were in the army and marine corps and air force, and i certainly don't want to take anything away from them, but the important life-saving, peacekeeping jobs being done by the u.s. navy, particularly the fifth fleet that i visited, cannot be overstated. bahrain, incidentally, is going through its own domestic difficulties. it experienced its own arab spring in early 2011, one that started with peaceful protests, calling for a more open political process. that process, unfortunately, broke down and many demonstrators were killed or jailed. others, sadly, were tortured. the government of bahrain did what few other countries in the region would be willing or brave
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enough to do. they created an outside commission to look into the issues around the uprising. a blunt and sober report was issued. it's my hope the government of bahrain will abide by its many recommendations. at the same time, i hope the opposition will seriously explore the latest attempt at dialogue offered by the government as a means to address the current political impasse. bahrain has so much promise, it can continue to be one of the shining lights of the gulf. both sides must renounce violence and work toward a peaceful political solution. mr. president, let me also note -- madam president, let me also note that overarching theme noted on this trip, one i mentioned before on the senate floor, the role of china. everywhere we went, we heard time and again how china is everywhere, often at the exclusion of american businesses, investment and influence. this pattern costs us not only lost jobs but lost diplomatic and security engagement. that's why last year, senator
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boozman and i introduced a bill to create a coordinated u.s. strategy to boost u.s. exports to africa and in turn foster american jobs. this bipartisan bill cleared the foreign relations, banking and finance committees, only to be held up at the last minute at the end of the year by senator toomey of pennsylvania, and to his credit, he didn't do it in a secret manner. he came to the floor and objected. although i disagreed with him, i respected the fact that he stated his point of view. i would lake to sit down with him again and any others who are skeptics about this legislation and let them know what i saw on this trip. delaying the passing of this legislation cost us more than lost influence on the continent and jobs here at home. it really is going to be a squandered opportunity. think about this -- in the last ten years, the six fastest growing economies in the world were in africa. in the next ten years, eight of the top ten will be in africa. where are we? we are playing a distant second fiddle to china. what does that mean for the
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future? it isn't very encouraging. it's time for us to step forward and show real american leadership in this area, and i appeal to those who have opposed this african trade bill which senator boozman and i have sponsored to take a second look and reconsider their position. madam president, it was an honor to visit our dedicated diplomatic and development military personnel. it was a reminder of the important and indispensable contributions to u.s. policy that they still play around the world in improving lives and ensuring security. these investments abroad are not only symbols of american generosity and values, they make the world safer for everyone. we should keep this in mind when we consider that america's foreign assistance budget, one that includes maintaining all our embassies around the world is just over 1% of the total u.s. budget. madam president, i yield the floor, and before i yield, i ask consent that any remaining time between now and 4:30 be equally divided, that time which is in
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quorum calls be equally divided between those supporting and opposing the vote at 4:30. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, i have the honor of being the chair of the u.s. helsinki commission, representing this body in that commission. that's a commission that was established in 1975 in order to implement the u.s. responsibilities and the organization for security and cooperation in europe. its membership includes all of the countries of europe as well as the former republics of the soviet union, canada and the united states. the main principles of helsinki is that we are interested in each other's security, but in order to have a secure nation, you have to have a nation that respects the human rights of its citizens, that provides economic opportunity for its citizens as
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well as the defense of their borders. we also have partners for cooperation, particularly in the mediterranean area that used the helsinki principles in order to try to advance security in their region. during this past recess, i took the opportunity to visit that region on behalf of the u.s. helsinki commission. i was joined by several of our colleagues in looking at the current security issues. our first visit was to israel, and our main focus quite frankly was in syria as to what is happening today in syria. in israel, we had a chance to meet with the israeli officials, and it was interesting as to how many brought up the concerns about syria. they were concerned about serious impact on israel's neighbors and what was going to happen as far as security in that region. while we were there, there was an episode on the syrian-israeli border and the israelis provided
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health care to those who were injured, providing humanitarian assistance, and we thank the israelis for providing that humanitarian assistance. it was interesting that the israeli officials pointed out the concern about the refugees that are leaving syria going into neighboring countries. we know the vast numbers. there is almost a million syrians who have left syria because of the humanitarian concerns for other countries. about a quarter of a million have gone to jordan. about 280,000 are in lebanon. 281,000 in turkey. another 90,000 in iraq. 16,000 in egypt. well, israel's concerned about the security of its neighbors, concerned about how jordan is dealing with the problems of the syrian refugees, how lebanon is handling it. we know the concerns about hezbollah operations in lebanon and how that is being handled
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with the syrian refugee issue. we had a chance to travel to turkey when we left israel. we met first with the turkish officials in ankara, and we got their account as to what was happening in syria and what turkey was doing about that. we then had a chance to visit the border area between turkey and syria. we visited a refugee camp where there is about 18,000 syrian refugees. we also had a chance to meet with the opposition leaders that were in that camp as well as later when we were in istanbul meeting with the opposition leaders from syria. i mention that all because the humanitarian crisis is continuing in the country of syria. this assad regime is turning on its own people. over 70,000 have been killed since the arab spring started in syria. while we were there, the assad
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regime used scud missiles against its own people. again, killing syrians, killing a lot of immigrant people in the process. this is a humanitarian disaster. i want to mention one bright spot, if i might. we had a chance to visit the camp, as i said, on the border between syria and turkey in turkey, and we had a chance to see firsthand how the syrian refugees are being handled by the turkish government. madam president, i want to tell you they're doing a superb job. i think it's a model way to handle a situation like this. they have an open border. now, the border area at that point is controlled by the syrian freedom fighters. they control that area. but the syrians -- the turks allowed the syrians to come in and find a safe haven. the turkish government has built housing for the refugees in the camp. we had a chance to see their children in schools.
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they're attending schools. they are getting proper food and proper medical attention. they have the opportunity to travel where they want to in turkey, freedom of movement. they had the opportunity to go back to syria if they wanted to go back to syria. so the turkish authorities are providing them with a safe haven and adequate help, and they're doing this primarily with their own resources. there's one other thing we observed when we were in this camp on the border. we had a chance to meet with the elected representatives of the refugees in kilis. they actually had an election. they don't get that opportunity in syria. they're learning how to cast their votes. learning what democracy is about. they're learning with representation is about. and we had a chance to talk to these representatives about the circumstances in syria, and what we could do to help. first i want to point out that
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there is still a tremendous need for the international community to contribute to the humanitarian needs of those that are being affected in syria. there are approximately four million syrians in need of humanitarian assistance. there are 2.5 million internally displaced people within syria. the united states has taken the lead as far as humanitarian aid having provided $384 million. other countries have stepped forward, but quite frankly, more needs to be done. in talking with the opposition leaders, and we had a chance to really talk to them in depth when we were in istanbul, they expressed to us a sense of frustration. a sense of frustration that there hasn't been a better unified international response to the humanitarian -- to the actions of the assad regime. to what the assad regime has done to its own people. and to get assad out of syria.
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quite frankly, they understand, at least we explained that some countries might be willing to provide certain type of help, other countries may not. as you know, the united states has provided nonlethal help, other countries are providing weapons, other countries are providing training. but we need to coordinate that. in the absence of coordination provides a void in which more extreme elements are likely to get into the opposition and that's something we want to make sure doesn't happen. so, madam president, the message i took back from those meetings is that the united states, we need to be in the leadership of coordinating the efforts of the opposition. we made it clear and i think the international community has made it clear that assad must go and he should go to the hague and be held accountable for his war crimes. he has no legitimacy to lee main in power -- remain in power in syria.
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we underscored that point again geb. we also underscored there is no justification for any country, any country, providing assistance to the assad regime on the military side. as we know, russia and iran have provided help. that's wrong. that's only adding to the problems and giving strength to a person who has turned on his own people. but then we need to coordinate our attentions so that we can provide the help they need and the confidence they're looking to so that they will have the necessary training not only to reclaim their country but then to rule their country in a democratic way that respects the rights of all the citizens. as the chair of the helsinki commission i pointed that out to the syrian opposition, that we want to provide the help so that they can rule their country one day. we hope sooner rather than later. in a way that respects the rights of all of its citizens,
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provides economic opportunity foreits -- for its citizens. that's the only you'll have a nation that respects the security of its country. that was the message we delivered and i hope that the united states will join other countries in a more concerted effort to get assad out of syria. as i said, i think he should be at the hague and held accountable for his war crimes and held accountable in allowing the people of syria to have a democratic regime. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: madam president, i rise today this year, 2013, on the tenth anniversary of the state of the union address by george w. bush when he introduced a program known as the president's emergency program for aids relief. a program that has remarkable success in the last decade.
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a lot of that success has taken place on the continent of africa from where i've just returned after my seventh trip in the last decade. a trim tripp where remarkable things are happening all over the continent in terms of aids infection being reduced, mother to child transmission being in fact eliminated in many cases and the big challenge today by those who fall ticket to aids is not that they will die soon but the continuum of chair necessary to see they live with the anti-retro environmentalist provided by petfar. for our taxpayers have invested billions of dollars on the continent of africa to begin the process of trying to eliminate aids. we cannot yet declare victory but we can declare victims in battles along that way. and we're making more and more of them every day as more and more iewmple babies are being tested, african-americans
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femaleses the easd they should, anti-retrovirals to prevent transmission to baby and a continuing progress of the great tra program started ten years ago by this congress, by president bush and by the american people. we are beginning to send the message we need to let the african countries know stailg scaling down our investment and raising their participation at the government letter he level is important to seeing to it that petfar remains viable program. in the nine nine days i guess it was, we visited the congo, mali,-hour okay poa, mali and in each country they're having more and more of their health professions caring for people, testing people, and distribution of anti-retrovirals which lessens the pressure on the budget of the united states. it's important to recognize a disease we feared was going to take much of the population of
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that continent and ours for that matter, ten years ago, is now a disease being managed, being reduced and overtime we hope to have a generation free of h.i.v./aids one day not only in america but around the world. but there is a trouble thing happening on the continent of africa panned and in asian and it's been those taking the colonel colonel brooks' tavern volunteers and stopping them from giving inokay nation and vaccination to the people. in pakistan and in nigh jeer aia, the last three countries on the world where polio still exists. just a few weeks ago in nigeria, nine workers were killed trying to give income tax vaition to -- income tax nation to children in nigeria because islamic leaders tried to tell them american donations of polio vaccine would, in fact, cause them to be imp tent when they grew up to reduce the arab pop pop -- population.
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it's a wife's tale being told to people. in the country of pakistan since december 12 there have been five attacks on workers distributing vaccines to try to eliminate polio in pakistan. as we great celebrate the victories in terms of h.i.v./aids, in terms of polio and malaria and other diseases we have to recognize there there is still ignorance prohibiting people who will ultimately get sick and dry from getting the vaccines necessary to prohibit them attracting disease he. i come to the floor to recognize the achievement of the american people in the war against aids on the continent of africa and the creation of petfar by george w. bush. but also to send out the warming call for those prying trying to prohibit the vaccinations from pete getting to people that need them in nigeria, pakistan and afghanistan because one day we want a generation free of h.i.v./aids and disease, not just on north america or africa
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but around the world. it's a tribute to the american taxpayer, the american medical community, the researchers and developers of the american people and this congress that the war on aids is still being engaged, they were declaring victory after victory on the battlefield and one day the hope of a generation free of aids may actually happen not just in america but around the world. and i yield back the time and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: and, madam president, what is the pending business before the senate? the presiding officer: the senate is considering the hagel nomination. ms. mikulski: madam president,
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i ask unanimous consent that i may speak as if in morning business for approximately ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i thank the presiding officer for granting me that permission, and my colleagues. i was so excited when i came in because i have a new guest in the senate. with -- a new desk in the senate. with senatority i moved to the row -- with seniority i am in the row where giants once stood, a few weeks ago was held by john kerry. though my desk location is new, i come to the floor with what seems to be a persistent pattern in the united states senate and in the united states congress, which is when faced with big, big problems that affect the fate of the nation, let's delay, let's blame, and let's not get to the work that the american
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people elected us to do. i rise today to speak about sequester, something that was never ever meant to happen. it came out of the dark days of the debt ceiling debacle in the summer of 2011, where we were facing the downgrade of the united states economy and a dysfunction of the united states congress. and in order to kind of get us to the table, we came up with an agreement to have a super committee that would meet with both sides of the dome to come up with how we can begin to solve the serious fiscal issues facing the united states of america. there was an insistence -- yes, by one side of the aisle that we have a trigger. and, yes, the president looked back on history, and what we have here now is a situation
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where we said what we would propose as a trigger if we didn't get our act together -- which we have not -- we would put into place something so serious, so draconian, so unthinkable, so unworkable that we would solve the problems through a regular order and find that sensible center that colin powell has so often talked to. well, you know, the super committee cole -- collapsed not because there weren't great efforts by senators durbin and members over in the house and chris van hollen. then we were faced with new year's eve. we put it off until new year's eve and after the election, and here we are while people were wearing funny hats all over america, we were doing funny
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things. and what did we do again? we put off sequester for two months, again not solving the problem. well now we have a rendezvous. on march 1 sequester will happen. i'm opposed to sequester. i think it's bad policy for our country. i think it will hurt our economy. i think it will exacerbate the fragile job situation we have and it will affect not only government employees, but those who work because -- in private-sector jobs because of the federal government. i support what was originally intended: a balanced approach that would look at increased revenues, particularly plugging up tax loopholes, particularly getting rid of tax break earmarks along with strategic cuts in spending and a review of
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mandatory spending to see what else that we could get more value for our dollar. for me, i'm going to speak tomorrow about the impact with science, technology, innovation and jobs. today i want to speak about my own beloved state of maryland and the people who work there. mr. president, maryland is the home not only to the super bowl champions, but to nobel prize winners and also people who work every day to help create the jobs today and the jobs tomorrow. i have the honor of representing 130,000 federal employees. and they say, wow, how many of them can we get rid of? why would we want to get rid of the people who work at the social security administration? these are the people who calculate the eligibility of the benefits in regular social security and in disability. why would we want to get rid of anybody working for the federal
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drug administration who every day are analyzing clinical trials to see if they can be moved to pharmaceutical or biotech or medical device production, ensuring that when they come out into clinical practice, they are safe, they have efficacy, they can be taken by the american people, and we can export them around the world? why would twaoept get rid of -- why would we want to get rid of anybody at f.d.a. who is helping to make sure our drug supply is safe? how about food inspectors? right now one of the turbo engines of my eastern shore economy is seafood production and poultry production. you can't have poultry production unless you have food inspectors. when we start laying off food inspectors it is going to affect private-sector jobs. if you don't have an inspector, you're not going to be able to have those companies working at the same level of production.
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hundreds of thousands of more work because of the federal government. like iconic contractors, particularly in defense and also like at nasa goddard which is our space science center. yes, 3,000 civil servants, but there are thousands of contractors. and what are they facing? layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, lousy morale. and what are they worried about? their future. and they wonder whether they should give us another future. make no mistake, we are not only going to hurt our economy, but there is an anti-incumbent fever developing around the country. as we look at solving the problems, there are those who want to protect lavish tax breaks, or tax earmarks, for a few. i want to stand up here for the many not only that people who are multimillionaires or billionaires can take a tax
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deduction over their corporate jet, i'm for the people working every day right now to find a cure for alzheimer's, to find the cure for autism, to find the cure for aids, find help for the arthritic. and most recently not only what is done by government but even where they're done in private institutions. within the last few weeks at johns hopkins university, under federal help from the veterans administration, on an american war veteran from iraq who had lost both arms -- both arms -- hopkins was able to perform surgery that did the first successful arm transplant. doesn't that bring tears to your eyes? and that happened because of the genius of the hopkins personnel, with help -- financial help from the v.a. to do the kind of
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research to make sure the surgery was a success but the autoimmune suppression was. this is what the american people want us to do, to not only help that veteran, but what we learn through the v.a. will also then move in to civilian clinical practice. i'm telling you, mr. p, we've got to really come up with a solution that where government is doing the job to help the american people with compelling human need or america is doing the job that enables other peel to keep their job or protect their livelihoods -- like weather. you know, people watch the weather channel and say, oh, isn't that guy cantori great? we even tweet each other from time to time. but they get a lot of their information from the national atmospheric agency. they run the weather forecast
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for all of america, predicting hurricanes, fo tornadoes. it also protects our ships at sea, civilian, cargo, military, as well as whether airlines can fly or not. so when we look at our legislation, we have to know that there are real consequences to those employees. the numbers sound a lot, but their contribution to saving lives and saving livelihoods is enormous. and then if we look at compelling human need, does the american people really want to protect people not paying taxes on their second million over head start? you know, sequester goes into effect, we're going to have a terrible effect on special ed. in maryland, special ed teachers would be affected, and would be an across-the-board cut in
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education. the same with title 1. maryland would lose over $14 million. federal law enforcement -- something i know you are very keenly interested in. if the sequester goes into effect, it's going to affect over 1,000 federal agents. that's at the f.b.i., that's at the drug enforcement agency, that's at the marshal service. you know, we don't know a lot about our marshal service. they serve so quietly and efficiently. fleck our judges in the -- they protect our judges in the federal courthouse. it also serves warrants for runaway fujitives. and you know what? it also enforces the law on sexual predators in our country. do we really want to furlough these men and women? i don't think so.
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then there is the f.b.i. the f.b.i. is crucial not only in mortgage fraud, financial fraud, but now in the world of cyber. do you know that last year in america there were 300 bank robberies. that's a terrible number if you're one of those banks. but there were thousands of attacks on cyber by cyber on our american financial institution, of which the f.b.i. was primetime. do we really want to lay them off? no, i don't think so. there's another issue of safety, and that goes to aviation safety. you know, i really am concerned about the cut in air traffic control. furloughs, layoffs, or asking a few to work longer hours. we can't have it. when we think about law enforcement, it's also about border control. i'm for protecting american borders. we now have 57,000 border control agents -- a surprising
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number. if sequester goes in, we could be forced to lay off or if you arelloy 5,000 of them. you know what a furlough is? it says to someone who is willing to be out there in the desert facing those who trade in the illegal traffic of people, guns, or drugs -- while you're out there in that hot sun, you're in harm's way, putting your life in danger. we're going to ask you to work four days a week and we're going to furlough you one-fifth of the time. mr. president, for that border control agent, being furloughed like that, that's a 20% cut. and i will say this: if any -- if the federal employees are going to take a 20% cut and furlough, we should take a 20% cut. i think should i be treated like my social security employees, like my n.i.h. employees working for cures, like f.d.a., the food inspectors, the people inspecting cargo coming into the
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port of baltimore, or looking for illegal cargo coming into our airport. if they take a hit, we should take a hit as well. and i look forward to moving on that legislation. but i hope we don't get to that point. not for me to protect my pay, but to protect their future and to say america believes in what you're doing. and we want to protect you so you can do your job for america instead of protecting all these breaks for billionaires. now, people can say, didn't we do the tax break thing? didn't we do the tax break thing new year's eve with biden and mcconnell? yes, there was a down payment. but there are lots and lots of very juicy loopholes or tax breaks. tax breaks for sending jobs overseas, tax breaks for deductions on corporate jets. do we need those?
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those are really earmarks, a tax earmark goes to a people in a particular class, and it lasts undefinitely. while we're waiting for comprehensive tax reform, let's go after some of these and come up with a balanced approach on revenue. mr. president, i know you were a governor, so you know about bond ratings. well, in my maryland, my state of maryland and my large counties are going to be affected by sequester because, as the federal government goes, moody's rates our bond rating. maryland could lose millions of dollars and have to pay high interest rates on bonds. this is going to have a terrible impact particularly in the area of school construction. it will cost hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in not building schools we need or roads that need repair or water systems that need to be
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upgraded. the people say, oh, well, that's government; that's the way it is. you know, mr. president, i just want you to realize that if, in fact, -- if, in fact, people begin to lose their jobs or get furloughed and lose a big part of their income, they're not going to be spending money on the local economy, the real economy. but it also means they won't be giving to their charitable organizations. that's regretful. if you have less money to spend and you save it car for your family -- and you save it somewhere for your family, you're not going to be giving to the united way. the lab assistant at any moi faces loosing -- the lab assistant at n.i.h. who faces losing her job, isn't going to give to her favorite chaimple c.
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we've got to stop sequester. on thursday i will be joining with my colleagues -- my democratic colleagues. we have a planning. our plan is simple and straightforward. we come up with $86 billion. half that is in revenue. what does that mean? it means we come up with money for the buffett rule. its origins was in warren buffett when he said that he should pay the same rate of taxes as his secretary. what that means is that on his second million -- not his first; we believe inen entrepreneurshi, the job creators, et cetera -- but on his second million he will pay the same rate as somebody mo make who makes $5,0a year. the other we want to close a loophole on sending job overseas. for too long we have rewarded the export of jobs when we should have a tax code that rewards the export of products.
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whether it is our great pharmaceutical industry, our arts, protecting intellectual property, and so on. so, mr. president, we come up with that and then we have a cut in the farm subsidy program where we will no longer pay people not to plant. that will be e about $27 billio. and yes we do cut defense but that doesn't trigger until 201 whe-- until 2017, when our troos are home from afghanistan. we never want to put our troops in harm's way. i wanted to share what's going to happen. in my state we represent many great federal iconic agencies that moved to maryland during the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's when real estate was so high in
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washington, d.c., or not just enough land. i am so proud of them. they win the nobel prizes. they help us win the markets. they're coming up with the new jobs for tomorrow. or they're out there like the coast guard making sure the chesapeake bay is safe or they're dealing with our customs or money is going to the university of maryland, to johns hopkins, to not only help our veterans get new arms but to get a new life. isn't that what the people want? we can be more frugal. we can be more sensible. but let's not do sequester. it's bad money -- it's bad management, and we can do better. what we can't do is continue to delay and put the entire burden on discretionary spending. so let's stand up, let's be counted, let's have a vote on thursday, and i do hope that the democratic alternative prevails. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: following my remarks, i ask unanimous consent that the senator from arkansas, senator pryor, be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: before chairman murkowski levels the floor, i wanted to thank her for her very hard work with several colleagues in putting together a plan that is a real commonsense plan that avoid this sequester. these automatic, senseless spending cuts. and it wasn't easy to do, but i thinker they fissioned out a way -- they figured out a way to pay for it, as she described, called the buffett rule, which basically says to a mult imillionaire, we think it only fair that you pay the same effective tax rate as your secretary. if you were to ask anyone in the street, any party -- republican, democratic -- do you think that's the right way to go? i'm convinced 90% of the people who say, of course. -- would say of course. i want to thank you.
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and i know that senator ink owe way is looking down and smiling because his successor, senator mikulski, is doing sufficient a great job already. -- is doing such a great job already. i rise ace as a senator from california -- senator feinstein and i represent 38 million. anything that happens around here comes down very hard on our state. or if it is a good thing, it is very good for our state. this is not a good thing, the sequester. it is a self-inflicted wound that will harm our economiment and i have to say, when i listened to speaker boehner over there, he is refusing to do anything about it. he says -- and i won't quote him because it would be language not acceptable -- but he basically said in the press -- and it's written there, i urge everyone to see it -- that the senators ought to get off their [blank] and get to work and get
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something done. well, i'm proud to say "we have an alternative to the sequester. senator mikulski laid it out. and i believe we have a majority vote in this senate for that plan. and i just hope our colleagues will not filibuster this. and let us have that up-or-down vote. combos when you're looking at -- because when you're looking at job losses into the hundreds of thousands -- and that's certainly true in my state and the country as a whole -- no one should filibuster a plan that would stave that pain off. now, how did we get to this place? in 2011, the republicans decided to hold our country hostage over raising the debt ceiling, and we know if we don't pay our bills -- which is what the debt ceil something about -- -- which is what the debt ceiling is about -- this country will phase default and our credit rating will be lowered and even though
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we resolved this at the 11th hour, we still caused the downgrade the time before and this time we averted another downgrade. but it's very important that we remember why we got to this place of facing this sequest her. the runs played games with the debt ceiling again even though under ronald reagan, their hero -- and by the way, i think even reagan rakronald reagan would hd time getting into the republican party these days because he said, you never should play games with the debt, even talking about not paying your debts is a problem. we raised the debt when ronald reagan was president. 18 times we raised the debt ceiling. but all of a sudden when there is a democratic president, they're playing games, and that's wrong. and so obviously, we didn't want to see another downgrade. we had already seen a delay the last time cost us $1.3 billion, mr. president, in borrowing
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costs alone. so in order to avert this, on august 2, 2011, we enacted the budget control act. when it became law, we were within hours of defaulting on our debts. the budget control act allowed us to raise the debt ceiling but on the condition that a super committee find $1.2 trillion in cuts or force a trigger of across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. mr. president, straight from my heart i say this -- no one thought the sequester would go forward. everyone thought the pain to the economy would be so great that everybody would sit down and resolve it. but here's what's going on right now. democrats say the way to resolve it and avert the sequester is to have dollar-for-dollar spending cuts and increases in revenues.
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republicans say 100% spending cuts and they would prefer to do no defense cuts and have it all come out of education, transportation, medical research, law enforcement, the environment. that's what their plan was last year. so let's face it. no one thought we would get to this point, but we're at this point. now, what is the choice here? i think it's pretty clear what the choice is. it's the democratic plan, which is a growing economy, versus the republican plan, which is a sequester, which is a slowing economy. and when i say that, i mean that. mark zandi, who is one of the leading economists in the country, said if sequestration goes forward, it would cut a half a point off our economic growth. now, what does this mean? it means jobs lost.
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it means jobs lost. and i have to say if i look at my state, this is not a pretty picture. the los angeles times in an article by richard lopez and richard simon today says california braces for impending cuts from federal sequestration. i ask unanimous consent to put this article into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: and our governor makes the point. he has a way of getting to the point. he said we need stimulus, not premature austerity, said governor jerry brown. the republicans have become the austerity party, and the democrats the jobs party, and i think people want jobs. there are still too many
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long-term unemployed. we have a stubbornly high unemployment rate. there is no question about it. now, jerry nicholsberg, a ucla economist who rights a quarterly economic forecast on the golden state, that's my state, said the state's recent economic gains would provide a buffer against sequestration, but will it slow economic growth? yes. why would we do something like this, a self-inflicted wound, when there is an easy way to get out of it, which is to put into place a rule that says on your second million dollars, once you get to that point, you're going to pay an effective tax rate equal to your secretary. give me a break. this is the greatest country on earth, and the people i know who live in california, for the most
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part in the wealthy brackets are very happy to pay their fair share. they want to pay their fair share. they want to give back. they love this country. it gave them everything. a lot of them started with nothing. so you have the two plans, the democratic plan that was outlined by senator mikulski, we're going to vote on it on thursday. i pray god that it's not filibustered, that a majority will rule here and we'll get it done, that will create a growing economy because it's a balanced plan, half cuts, half revenues, and a republican plan that we don't know yet but the one they passed in the house doubled down on the cuts to education, the environment, transportation and left defense alone. that's not fair and that is a sure way you're going to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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so i want to share a picture here. i don't know if the people could see this, but it's on the front page of "the washington post," and it's a picture of a shipyard worker, and the look on his face i can only describe as frightened. as a matter of fact, when i saw the photo, without seeing what the story was about, i thought this man is expecting some terrible gloom and doom to occur. and yes, it's his fear that he will be laid off. he says his wife is pregnant and he doesn't have a second source of income in the family, and he is desperate. we just went through that. why would we ever do it again? and people say to me well, what's going to happen? how will i feel it back home?
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will i have a longer wait at the airport? yeah, you might. will i go to the national park service and it may be closed down? yeah. will job training centers, some of them shut? yeah. there is a list of things that will happen. i ask unanimous consent to place it into the record the consequences of the sequester cuts nationwide. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: we're looking at 70,000 children not being able to go to head start. we're looking at 10,000 teacher jobs. we're looking at 7,200 special ed teachers. you know those special ed teachers. they are angels from heaven who work with kids who can't even sometimes manage to get dressed in the morning by themselves. 2,700 schools won't receive title one funds, cutting support for 1.2 million children who need help learning to read.
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tell me, does this make sense when all you have to do is ask someone earning a second million dollars to pay the same effective rate as his secretary? i don't get it. how about 424,000 h.i.v. tests conducted by the c.d.c.? won't happen. so someone is going to sneak through and give h.i.v. to someone else. really, that is not a smart thing. 25,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings will not take place, and some poor women who might have had a chance to catch breast cancer in the early stage, she is thrown overboard. 800,000 outpatient visits to indian health service hospitals and clinics. food inspections. just the time to cut back on food inspections. how about four million meals will be cut that would have been served to seniors through programs like meals on wheels.
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four million seniors who won't get that. and what if they don't have a loving child to take care of them or what if they don't have a neighbor to take care of them. 600,000 women and children won't receive nutrition assistance, and we have a lot of hungry people in this great country of ours. scientific grants to find cures to the diseases that plague our families, whether they are rich or poor or anywhere in the middle, to find the cure for alzheimer's, to find the cure for diabetes. no. small businesses who do so well when they get that little seed money, $902 million cut from there. and a thousand f.b.i. agents and other law enforcement personnel gone. that's because we're just so safe in our communities. you know, i have gone around my state, not one person ever came up to me and said you know what? i want less enforcement in my
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neighborhood. there is just too much, it's too safe. not one person ever told me oh, don't bother checking my air and my water quality. i'm just fine. so if you take these cuts and you apply them to your states, you will find out what happens, and it is not a pretty picture. los angeles alone could lose as much as $115 million in federal grants just in the first six months of 2013. community development, public safety, i have been through it. we don't have to inflict this pain on the american people, and everything i said relates to jobs. all of those cuts, what does it mean? real people who do real things in the community like law enforcement, teaching our kids, et cetera, et cetera, they will lose their jobs.
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that's why, not to mention people in the defense department who are making sure that we are always safe and ready, and that's why you see the look on his face, because he is potentially one of those people. so in closing, i just want to say again thank you to those who have put together a package for us, and i have a plea to my republican friends -- do not filibuster this. too many lives are at stake. too many jobs are at stake. just put your plan forward, get a vote on it if you have a plan or if your plan is to let sequester go through, let's see that vote again and let us have our plan to avoid this pain and suffering that people are going to feel. i actually have one more point to make and then i will turn to my friend from arkansas.
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you hear a lot of posturing from my republican friends about how the democrats are such big spenders and all they want to do is spend and tax and tax and spend. what party led the way to the first balanced budget in 50 years? i'll give you a clue. it was not the republican party. it was the democrat party when bill clinton was president. we not only balanced the budget, but we left george w. bush a surplus of $281 billion. and by the way, i happened to be here when we voted on the budget plan and we did not have one vote to spare. we did it ourselves.
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now, what did george w. bush do with this surplus, this huge surplus? he squandered it. he put two wars on the credit card, never paid for it, gave tax breaks to people who didn't need it and handed president obama a $1.2 trillion deficit, which is now projected to be $850 billion for 2013. it's going in the right direction under a democratic president. now, we want to get that down and we can get that down, and we can work together to get that down, but we do not have to do this sequester. history has shown us that the balanced approach we used when bill clinton was president of smart investments and things that help our people like job training and education and lifting up our children and making sure they don't go
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hungry, those kinds of investments pay off in a society. we had 23 million jobs. under george w. bush, we lost jobs. and this president, our president who just got re-elected, is following the model of bill clinton, a balanced approach to deficit reduction, investments in things that we need, cutting things that we don't need and working together. so i say if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it. we're coming out of the greatest recession since the great depression, and we cannot afford to have this sequester. we need to avert it, come together with a balanced plan of cuts and revenues, not just the
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cuts-only approach, the austerity approach of the republicans. and i hope they don't filibuster our approach and let us have an up-or-down vote and pass this with a majority. i thank you very much, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. pryor: mr. president, i want to thank my senate colleague from california for her remarks, and also want to finish one point that she was making there at the end. but before i do, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the final 20 minutes prior to the vote be equally divided and controlled between senators levin and inhofe. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. pryor: i want to thank senator boxer for her k0789s on balancing the budget. one of the things we need to understand is that we can do this. it wasn't that long ago when president clinton was elected and he focused on balancing the budget, he made it a priority
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of his administration. he made it a democratic priority for the democratic party, and they passed the budget, the balanced budget act of 1993. it passed without one republican vote in this chamber and without one republican vote in the house chamber. but nonetheless it did pass, it probably cost some people some elections, a couple years later but nonetheless was the right thing to do, got us on course to fiscal stability. it took four years but we did balance the budget. but there's one -- one thing we also need to mention as we talk about that is one advantage that bill clinton had that we have not had in the last few years here is a robust, vibrant and growing economy. he had the longest economic expansion in u.s. history. that didn't happen by accident. that took a lot of work. it took a lot of bipartisan
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effort here in the united states senate, there in the u.s. house of representatives, and down at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, it had governors working together, it had all of us working together to try to make sure that we got the economy back on track. because if the economy is growing, your revenues improve and also your safety net programs are not hit nearly as hard. so one of the things we need to focus on as a congress, certainly as a senate, is we need to focus on growing the u.s. economy, and that brings me to my discussion today about sequestration. when we look at what the analysis is on what sequestration could do to the u.s. economy, there could be 750,000 jobs lost in this economy because of sequestration. that's a 5.6 shrinkage of the
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economy by the end of this year. we're not talking about down the road, we're talking about the end of this year. it will have a negative impact on the u.s. economy and that's just going to continue to hurt our debt and deficit problem. we need to do all we can to avoid this and to grow the u.s. economy. we need a growing u.s. economy. shouldn't be government policies that are shrinking the economy but we should be growing the economy. presidents i would like to say if you look at just the numbers for government employees -- and i think a lot of the news media has focused on government employees, a lot of discussion in the press conferences and the blame game, i want to talk about that in a few moments but if you just look at the numbers in the public sector, the public employees who will be laid off or furloughed or for whatever reason won't able to function, those are big
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numbers. but that only tells part of the story. in fact, that only tells a small part of the story because really this sequester is going to harm the private sector much, much more than it harms the public sector. and this is something that we should understand, that the american people should understand. i would hope that the american people would insist that we work together to get something done here in the next few days, if possible, certainly the next few weeks, on sequester to avoid this. in my state of arkansas there are 91 poultry and meat processing facilities that will have to close their doors at least at some point because they don't have meat inspectors and food inspectors on site. that's 91 facilities. that's a lot of employees. we have employees at 52 arkansas f. samplet offices, these are department of ag offices around
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the counties to help people in the farming industry to give them some government resources, advice, etc., 52 of those offices, they're not going to close their doors but will have to furlough their employees. no doubt they'll just be at partial strength instead of full strength at a very critical time for our farmers all over the state of arkansas. also we have an f.d.a. facility there, the national center for,to owe logical research and it's going to be cut by an estimated $3 million. well, that facility is a nice little economic engine for that part of the state. and that means when they cut, it's going to have a negative ripple affect, an adverse ripple effect in our part of the state's economy as well. mr. president, i know that in this chamber and in this town there's a lot of discussion about making the government smaller and how we should cut the government and how the
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government should be leaner and all that and you know what? a lot of that i don't disagree with. but i do think it's important for all of us as responsible policymakers to understand the reality that whether we like it or not -- and many of us have philosophic disagreements on this and i'm not trying to get do that -- but whether we like it or not, our government is very intertwined in the u.s. economy. our government is a critical part of the u.s. economy. so you take something like the food industry, and i'm chairman of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee on agriculture. i'm chairman of that subcommittee. you take something just as basic as agriculture, something that may not be very sexy, that doesn't get a lot of headlines, that people don't think a lot about because we just take it for granted in this country that we're going to have a good, healthy, robust food supply.
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but that doesn't have to be the case. certainly not the case in most countries around the world. we're very spoiled, we're very foirntd in this country to have that. but the agricultural sector can't function without the government. again, we have a safe food supply. we need inspectors out there to make sure that that meat and other things that is being processed gets that usda seal of -- seal of approval, grade a, whatever it is, that means something. and if we can't know that our food is safe, then we've diminished what it means to live in this country. we don't want to get into that. let's avoid that. this is avoidable. i know that a lot of our -- arkansans when i talk to them they say can't you all do something, can't you work together? the answer is yes, we can work together. it's just a matter of political will. we just have to make up our minds that's what we're going to do, that we are going to work together.
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one of the things we did is in 2011 we passed the budget control act and here again the newsia hasn't covered this a lot, hasn't explained this very well to most americans, but the budget control act of 2011 among other things, one of the things it did is it set spending caps for the federal government. so like back in the 1980's when people worried about $180 billion debts -- deficits, now we have much, much larger deficits than that. but back then in the 1980's we put on the gramm-rudman spending caps and things like that, gram h.u.d. man hollings and other efforts over -- gram rudman hollings, we have caps for the next fine nien years when it comes to federal spending and i think people don't always appreciate that because what they hear out of washington is instead of people really explaining what's going on and trying to help the american people understand what they get
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from washington is blame, blame, blame. i cannot count the number of press conferences we've had where one side's come out and blamed the other side. i know some of the house members just came out and blamed the senate. democrats are blaming republicans. republicans are blaming the president. the president is blaming the congress. it just goes on and on and on, never stops, it's a dead-end street. the truth is we voted for sequester. i don't care who came up with the idea. we voted for it. and as we talked about many, many times on this floor, the reason we put sequester in in the first place is because it's such a bad idea it will be so hard to do, doesn't make a lot of sense but nonetheless it was to try to force our folks to get to a budget deal. didn't happen, but i think the important thing is all americans need to know is that everybody in washington owns this. you can blame all you want, have as many press conferences
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as you want but everybody in washington owns this. and we need to own up to our responsibility as congressmen and senators and as the president and do what we can to not hurt this country. i want to talk for a few more moments because i see one of my colleagues has arrived here so, mr. president, let me just say that sequestration, again, was an idea that was put together because they wanted it to be so painful that we would never get here. these are arbitrary cuts. you don't take into account efficiencies in programs, effectiveness of programs, you don't take into account the merit of programs. you just cut across the board. i think that we probably will do some more cuts, we probably should do more cuts. if you look at the simpson-bowles blueprint, that proposal a lot of us have talked about over the last couple years, they would probably look at that and say we style still
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need to do some cutting and need some revenue, we need to do that but our cuts should be smart and they should be deliberate and they should increase the bang that the taxpayer gets for their buck. and that's not what sequestration does. it doesn't really achieve any of those goals. now, one thing about the department of agriculture. here again people need to understand this. we talk about this here inside in our committee rooms and whatnot, but i think a lot of times the message doesn't get out. agriculture funding has already been cut by 15%. there's already been a 15% cut to agriculture starting in 2010 from today. 15%. and i think it's unwise for us to cut an industry that is one of the core strengths of the u.s. economy. if we look at the u.s. economy there are a lot of things we do well but there's no doubt at all
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that we do agriculture better than anyone else in the world. there's not even a close second place. this is where you innovate when it comes to agriculture, this is where you maximize crops. the united states of america is the gold standard for agriculture productivity and new technology and innovation and all these great things to make this country the breadbasket that it is. so why in the world are bee we going to cut, cut, cut agriculture? doesn't make any sense. and, of course, rural america is struggling disproportionately. you know, the recession and all that has hit rural america and it's tough out there. let me tell you, i come from a very rural state. it's tough. these cuts are going to harm rural america much more than they harm urban america and suburban america. it's just a fact of life. and, again, that's another reason why we need to avoid this. in closing i know i have one of my colleagues here who would
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like to speak so just in closing let me just back get back to the meat inspectors, the department of agriculture says that they may have to be furloughed up to 15 days. that means you'll have to temporarily close maybe for a day at a time 6,000 processing plants nationwide. there's over 90 of those in arkansas. just in my state that's going to have an impact on not those few government jobs, it's going to have an impact on 40,000 jobs in my state, in the private sector. 40,000 jobs in the private sector. because of this. it also is going to disrupt the efficiencies that we have in the protein markets in this country. what that means is prices are going to go up. people are going to pay more for their meat products at the grocery store and at the restaurants, and this is not going to be a win for anybody,
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and i think you're going to see about $400 million in industry wages that could be lost as a result of that. that's not going to help the u.s. economy. then you expand what the u.s. department of agriculture does beyond just row crop and livestock type agriculture. they do a lot in the area of clean water, fire and rescue vehicles in rural communities, they do community building and rural america, things like hospitals, school construction, they do rental assistance programs and a lot of these are the poorest of the poor out there around our country, and, again, it's going to disproportionately hurt these people who can least afford it. also i mentioned the u.s. department of agriculture but also f.d.a., it looks like it seems to me like almost every one of their employees around the country could be subject to these surlos and these cuts --
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furloughs and these cuts and will be adversely affect thread. do we want to interrupt the gold standard we have with food and drugs in this country to the f.d.a.? i would say no and i think it's time for to us come together, work together, find a solution. i think one of the bits of good news you see in washington is that there's nothing wrong here that we can't fix with some political will. and i think this is what this is about. it is a little bit of a test of wills right now. but i think there is no doubt we can fix this with some political will. mr. president, with that, i will yield the floor. i see my colleague from vermont who just walked in. so thank you, mr. president. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i thank my colleague from arkansas for yielding. mr. president, when we talk about sequestration, when we talk about deficit reduction, it is important to put that discussion in a broader context. and the broader context has got
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to be, number one, what is the fairest way to move toward deficit reduction? and what is the best approach in terms of economic policy making our country strong and creating jobs? now i fear very much that the debate that we are currently having really has very little to do with financial issues. i believe it has a lot to do with ideology. it is all about economic winners in america and losers in our country. it is all about the power of big money. it is all about the soul of what america is supposed to be. mr. president, you may have noticed there was a poll done. i can't remember who did it. but it was consistent with all the other polls that i have seen. they asked the american people: are you concerned about deficit reduction? do you think that we should cut
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social security and medicare? and overwhelmingly democrats said no. republicans said no. and yet, here in the congress surrounded by lobbyists and campaign contributors who are very, very wealthy, that's where we're heading. we're heading to a so-called chained c.p.i. which very few people outside the beltway understand, which will mean cuts, significant cuts in social security and in benefits for disabled veterans. so the american people say we think the wealthiest people in this country should help us with deficit reduction, protect the safety net. and here in congress there is a fierce attack by the republicans and some democrats on the safety net and to a large degree we're allowing large corporations who
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enjoy very low effective tax rates to get away with what they are doing. now, when we talk about who should help us with deficit reduction, we've got to look at what's going on economically in the united states of america. today -- and we don't discuss this issue enough. we need more people coming down to the floor to talk about it. we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and the gap between the very, very wealthy and everyone else is growing wider. today the wealthiest 400 individuals in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of american people. 150 million people. you've got 150 million people here, you've got 400 over there. who do you think should pick up the burden of deficit reduction? should we go after children who are having a hard time getting the nutrition they need?
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seniors who can't afford prescription drugs? yeah, you could do that. is that a moral thing to do? no. is that good economics? no. today one family, the walton family of wal-mart, who, by the way, is probably the major welfare beneficiary in america because so many of their low-paid employees are on medicaid, food stamps or other federal programs that one family owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of the american people. and you know what we did a couple of months ago? gave them all the family aid, tax break by expanding the estate tax. today, mr. president, the top 1% owns 38% of all financial wealth. one percent owns 38%. the bottom 60% owns less than 3% of all wealth. well, what do we think? do you really want to go after
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the bottom 60%? families who are making $25,000, $30,000 a year, falling further and further behind? do you want to take away the educational opportunities, the nutrition their kids get? yeah, you could do it that way. but maybe it makes more sense to go after the top 1% who are doing phenomenally well. you know what? the vast majority of americans agree with that. but this congress does not reflect the interests of the vast majority of the american people, because it is not the american people who are funding the campaigns for members of the senate and the house. it's not the average american who has well-paid lobbyists all over this place. today as warren buffett has pointed out, the 400 richest americans are now worth a record-breaking $1.7 trillion, more than five times what they were worth two decades ago. and while the wealthiest people
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are becoming even richer, the federal reserve reported last year that median net worth for middle-class families dropped by nearly 40% from 2007 to 2010. dropped by 40%. that's the equivalent of wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle-class family. who do you go after? you really think it makes any economic or moral sense to go after a middle class which is disappearing? or maybe do you ask the wealthiest people in this country who are doing phenomenally well to help us with deficit reduction? now as bad as wealth inequality is, the distribution of income -- what people make every year -- is even worse. there's an amazing statistic, and i hope everybody pays attention to this.
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the last study on the subject of income, income distribution, showed that from 2009 through 2011 -- that's the last study that we have -- 100% of all new income went to the top 1%, while the bottom 99% actually saw a loss in their income. so in a sense it doesn't matter given that incredible imbalance in income what kind of economic growth you have. because all of the gains -- all of the gains are going to go to the top 1%. and i have some friends over in the house, republican friends. i say no, no, no, we can't ask these people to help us more with deficit reduction. and i think that is very, very
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wrong. so when we are talking about how to reduce the deficit -- and we all want to do that -- i have to understand you can't get blood out of a stone. you can't ask people who are earning less, in many cases working longer hours, you can't ask the 14% of americans who are unemployed -- if you add people who have given up looking for work and people who are working part time -- you cannot get blood out of a stone. you have got to go as willie sutton reminded us, the bank robber reminded us, you go where the money is. in this case all the money, all the gains in income are with the top 1%. mr. president, the other point that needs to be made is that we have to ask the question of how we got to where we are right now. so, number one, you have to ask who is best able to help us with
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deficit reduction? it is certainly not the struggling middle class. it is surely not disabled veterans and their families. it is sure not elderly people who can't afford prescription drugs. it is surely not kids who don't have enough to eat. but the second question you have to ask is how did we get to where we are today? did this deficit just come yesterday? and i think we all remember that in the last year of the clinton administration, this country had a $236 billion surplus. surplus. and the economists were projecting that that surplus would expand, expand and expand. so what happened from the year 2000 to 2013, so that we wefpbt from wefpbt -- went from a significant surplus to a very serious deficit? and that has to be understood when you talk about sequestration and deficit reduction. and the answer is, as everybody
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knows, we went to war in iraq and afghanistan. but a strange thing happened, mr. president. we forgot to pay for those wars. and you know what? when you're going into two wars and you're taking care of all the veterans who have been hurt in those wars, that adds up to something like $3 trillion by the time we take care of the last veteran. as we must. during the bush administration, we gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country. didn't offset it. that adds up. passed the medicare part-d prescription drug program. didn't pay for that. that adds up. and most importantly, because of the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior on wall street, we were plunged into a major recession: high unemployment, businesses going under, less tax revenue coming in to the federal
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coffers. i know my republican friends say cut, cut, cut. cut benefits for disabled vets. cut social security. cut medicaid. cut nutrition. cut head start. you could do it that way. but you should also understand that at 15.8% as compared to g.d.p., as a percentage of g.d.p., our revenue is almost the lowest it has been in 60 years. so, yes, in the middle of a recession we are spending a lot of money making sure that people don't go hungry, making sure that people who lost their job have unemployment benefits, making sure that people have affordable housing. it's true. but what is also true that at 15.8% as a percentage of g.d.p., our revenue is less, almost less than it has been in 60 years.
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mr. president, today not only are we seeing a growing gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else, it is important to take a look at large corporations. and when we do, we find that today corporate profits are at an all-time high while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of gunpoint -- as a percentage of g.d.p. is near a record low. profits soaring, effective tax rate near a record low. in 2011, corporate revenue was a percentage of g.d.p. was just 1.2%, lower than any other major country in the oecd, including great britain, germany, france, japan, canada, et cetera. corporate revenue as a percentage of g.d.p., 1.2% lower than any other major country in the oecd. in 2011, corporations paid just
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12% of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972. so you've got a choice. you've got a choice. you go after the elderly, you go after the sick. do you go after the children? do you go after the poor? or maybe do you say that when corporate profits are at a record level and their effective tax rate is the lowest since 1972, maybe you say to corporate america, hey, help us with deficit reduction. now the last figures that we've seen on this issue is that in 2005, one out of four major corporations paid no income tax at all while they collected over $1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period. there are estimates -- and i see senator levin here, who is committee -- the presiding officer: the
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time has expired. mr. sanders: let me conclude by simply saying that we're losing $100 billion a year through tax havens in the cayman islands and elsewhere. there are ways to do deficit reduction without hurting the most vulnerable people in this society. and with that, i would yield the floor. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: before senator sanders leaves, let me commend him. i didn't hear all the remarks, but i know the subject of his address and his remarks was the fact that corporations now contribute about 10% of the total revenue that comes into uncle sam, whereas years ago it was about 50%. and then gradually has come down to where it is now. and the reason for that is mainly that there's a whole bunch of gimmicks and loopholes which have been inserted into our tax laws which need to be
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closed. and if they can be closed, we would be able to avoid sequestration. that's how big the loopholes are. i'm not talking here about deductions which most people would say serve a useful purpose. whether or not people agree with the purpose or not, at least deductions, as we generally understand deductions, serve some kind of a productive purpose. for instance, corporations get accelerated depreciation when they buy equipment. that serves a very important purpose. it gives incentive to buy equipment. even the oil and gas credit, which i don't support -- nonetheless, the purpose of it is to give an incentive to explore and drill for oil and gas. whether you agree with that purpose or not, at least it is a purpose. when it comes to these loopholes and gimmicks which are used to shift revenue to tax havens, there is no useful purpose. the only purpose is tax avoidance. and those are the loopholes
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which we can close, and those are the loopholes which it seems to me there ought to be broad, bipartisan support to close, and if we can close it, we can avoid sequestration. that's how big again these loopholes are. i very much appreciate the senator from vermont's reference to our permanent subcommittee on investigations and the work that we've been doing, and i very much appreciate the energy which he brings to this effort. it ought to be bipartisan. these kind of loopholes again are not what most people consider to be legitimate loopholes or deductions, excuse me -- legitimate deductions. but, again, they are the kind of tax avoidance schemes which should not be in the law, even if we had no deficit. i guess one of the critical differences between these kinds of tax gimmicks and the ordinary deductions which corporations take is the fact that the use of
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these -- and the abuse of these should be he woulde he would ela bipartisan basis. i wish i had caught the early part of my colleague's remarks, but that was not to be. is the balance of the time reserved for th for the hagel nomination is it just open? the presiding officer: yes, it is. 20 minutes, ten minutes by each side, sir. mr. levin: the vote is supposed to take place -- the presiding officer: 4:30. mr. levin: so the time is equally divided? the presiding officer: i would say that would be fair. mr. levin: okay. mr. president, five weeks ago senator hagel was warmly introduced at his nomination hearing by two former chairmen
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of the senate armed services committee, senator sam nunn and senator john warner, who represent the best bipartisan tradition of the senate and our committee. and the presiding officer, as a matter of fact, senator manchin, was present at the time when that presentation was made by senators nunn and warner, and he was a witness to how powerful their testimony in support of senator hagel was. senator nunn told the committee, "i believe that our nation is fortunate to have a nominee for secretary of defense with the characteristic and experience and the cucialg and the leadership that chuck hagel would bring to the position." and he said that there are many essential characteristickistics and values that a secretary of defense should possess in our dangerous and challenging world," and h he named a few of them, including someone who sets
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aside fixed ideology and buy ya--and biases to evaluate all options and then provide his or her candid judgment to the president and to the congress. and he also named this characteristic, someone who pays attention to people with the best ideas, regardless of their party affiliation. and then senator warner said that folks, there's an old saying in the combat army, and the marine corps. "certain men are asked to take the point." close quote. which means to get out and lead in the face of the enemy. and senator warner continued, "chuck hagel did that as a sergeant in vietnam, and if confirmed, chuck hagel will do it again, this time not before a platoon but before every man and wool and their families in -- every man and woman and their families in the armed services.
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he said, you will lead them, and they will know in their hearts that we have one of our own," now earlier today, the senate acted in a bipartisan fashion in voting to end the filibuster of this nomination by a very substantial vote. if confirmed, senator hagel would be the first former enlisted man and the first veteran of the vietnam war to serve as secretary of defense. this background gives senator hagel an invaluable perspective, not only with respect to the difficult decisions and recommendations that a secretary of defense must make regarding the use of force and the commitment of u.s. troops overseas, but also with respect to the day-to-day decisions that a secretary must make to ensure that our men and women in unilaterauniform and their famis receive the support and assistance that they need and deserve.
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our country faces major challenges. abroad we face challenges from afghanistan, where the department of defense faces key decisions about the pace of the drawdown between now and the end of 2014, a decision about the size and the composition of a residual force, a decision about the terl terms and conditions fr ongoing presence in afghanistan after 2014. elsewhere overseas, we face the ongoing threat of iran's nuclear weapons program, the destruction and instability caused by syria's civil war and the outgrowth of al qaeda affiliates in ungoverned regions including yemen and somalia and north africa. we also face extremely difficult issues here at home. we've been warned that
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sequestration and a year-long continuing resolution risk creating a hollow force and could confront our military leaders with the untenable choice between sending troops into harm's way without adequate training and equipment or being unable to take on certain missions at all. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has described the impact of this budget crisis on the department of defense as a 10 on a scale of one to ten. so, as much as any time in the recent past, our men and women in uniform need a secretary of defense to guide them through difficult situations around the world and to defend their interests here at home. the president needs a secretary of defense in whom he has trust
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-- the president needs a secretary of defense in whom he has trust, who will give him unvarnished advice, a person of integrity and one who has a personal understanding of the consequences of decisions relative to the use of military force. it is time to end the uncertainty relative to the leadership at the pentagon. the time has come to now confirm chuck hagel as our next secretary of defense, and i hope that the senate will, on a bipartisan basis, soon do exactly that. and i yield the floor, and i note the absence of a quorum. stir officer the clerk will call the roll. roll the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. levin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: i ask the yeas and nays if they haven't already been ordered. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? it seems to be there is a sufficient second. the yeas and nays will be called. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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